Obama’s Magnolia Bagged in Jerusalem — and More Off-Script

Photograph by Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Barack Obama takes part in a tree planting ceremony with Israeli President Shimon Peres at his residence on March 20, 2013 in Jerusalem.

President Barack Obama brought a magnolia tree, a descendant of a White House magnolia, to the home of President Shimon Peres.

The Israelis have planted it in their president’s garden with a plastic wrapper around the roots until it can be inspected by the Agriculture Ministry.

“They will come in two or three weeks to see that there’s nothing unhealthy in the roots,” said Peres spokeswoman Ayelet Frisch, maintaining this was the plan all along. “All countries have such rules.”

Unplanned: One of the president’s armored limousines broke down in Tel Aviv before he ever rode in it.

Prepared: The Secret Service explained, that’s why they travel with a lot of them.

From the moment Obama stepped off Air Force One in Tel Aviv, his first presidential visit to Israel has been scripted with imagery and statements aimed at showing his support for Israel and its people. That didn’t prevent him from wandering off script.

Off-script: He told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that it was “good to get away from Congress.”

On-air: Back home, House Speaker John Boehner said: “So much for the charm offensive.”

Laugh line: Obama, instructed by an official to follow a thin, painted red line to a structure that housed part of a missile-defense system he was touring, joked, with Netanyahu by his side, that the prime minister is always talking to him about ”red lines.”

At this hour, however, there is a “lid” on the president’s travels in Jerusalem, where it is past bedtime.

Tomorrow, as they say, is another day.

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