This was the rare executive order that was summarily ignored.

President Obama wields a lot of power, but as he was preparing to depart Israel on Friday, after the funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres, it was clear that his influence was severely limited when it came to persuading Bill Clinton to finish his conversation and climb aboard Air Force One.

“Bill, let’s go!” Obama yelled from the doorway of Air Force One as Clinton chatted on the ground.


The two presidents have distinctly different approaches to punctuality that extend well beyond air travel. On Martha’s Vineyard, where both play golf during the summer, Obama is known for his brisk play. Clinton is renowned for gabbing between holes and causing traffic jams on the course. On the former president’s slowest days, course rangers have been known to prod Clinton’s party to pick up the pace by waving red flags.

Obama didn’t resort to semaphore in Israel. First he tried clapping his hands, a gesture typically employed when trying to attract the attention of a distracted toddler or a Labrador retriever.

Still no luck.

Finally, he walked out of his plane and onto the red carpeted steps.

“Bill, let’s go!" he yelled over the jet engines as Clinton started to climb the stairs. “Let’s go home.”

As Clinton reached the door to the plane, he threw open his arms, slapped Obama on the back and shook his hand. A smiling, but unmistakably impatient Obama, escorted him into the cabin.

If Hillary Clinton is elected America’s first female president, it remains to be seen whether she will have better luck herding her husband onto Air Force One.