Is it worth trying to analyze the White House’s moves on Egypt in terms of a master “strategy” anymore? It’s like trying to analyze the mise-en-scene in “Sharknado.” To do so is to attribute to the object a sophistication it obviously lacks.

Let’s try anyway. For fun.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States agreed with Germany’s earlier appeal for Morsi to be released and was “publicly” making the same request.

Morsi has been held in a “safe place,” according to the interim leaders, and has not been seen in public since his ouster July 3.

Psaki said that US officials had been in regular contact with all sectors of Egyptian society.

But in past days, while condemning arbitrary arrests, she had refused to say whether the US administration believed Morsi should be freed.

What better way to soothe a roiling mass of angry Islamists than to give them back their leader? That worked out okay in Iran once before, didn’t it?

The Hopenchange “strategy” in Egypt at this point is simple bet-hedging by pandering to all sides. Two years ago, they thought the best way to build goodwill with the Arab Spring was to support democracy come what may, even if it meant government by the Muslim Brotherhood. They stuck with that logic for two years, right through the spectacle of millions of people marching in Cairo’s streets to bring down Morsi, some of them carrying signs accusing Obama and Anne Patterson of supporting terrorism for sticking by the duly elected Islamist regime. Time to recalibrate: Now the White House is kinda sorta pro-coup — they won’t cut aid to Egypt’s military for having deposed the president — but also still kinda sorta pro-Morsi in that they want the military to let him go free, especially since (as far as I know) he hasn’t been charged with any crime. Pandering to both sides gives them a little more leverage in theory to get everyone back to the table politically, rather than have the Brotherhood quit politics and start to go the Taliban route. Whether Morsi’s release would make that more likely or less is almost beside the point. The point is to maximize U.S. leverage in the near term, and going to bat for him while keeping the greenbacks flowing to the military arguably does that. I wonder how many people on one side the other would have to kill before the White House sides with one of them unambiguously. We may find out.

Just wondering: If the military decides, nope, they won’t be releasing Morsi despite the White House’s request, what’s our next move? If O decides to punish them by cutting aid, that will … complicate his goodwill-building project with the mass of Egyptians who already think he’s in the tank for the Brotherhood. If he decides not to cut aid despite their defiance, then he’s all but admitting that our money buys us no real leverage over the Egyptian military except as a way to keep them from starting a war with Israel, which is the one real red line in all of this.

Anyway. What’d you think of the lighting in “Sharknado”? I thought the guy who played Ian Ziering’s son really glowed when he tried to “emote.”