Bibi the fall guy as Barack wins the lot
Losing bet … Israeli cartoons mock Benjamin Netanyahu's rejection of Barack Obama's campaign, and show the US President snubbing him.
Enter the Beagle Boys. In any gambling joint, the house needs to know who's playing - especially when the big boys come to the top table. They're the ones who know how the game goes, what the odds are - and that tomorrow there'll always be a reckoning.
See over there, by the wall? The Russians - they're known for a bit of biffo, but at Casino America they reveal their hand cautiously.
Ah, it's Barack, not Mitt, who holds the aces. So Moscow's thinking on the new Obama line-up comes discreetly, deniably. A no-name official tells a Russian news guy the Kremlin wants the urbane John Kerry, not that pointy-elbowed Susan Rice to take the Hillary gig at State.
The message gets through. But that's just a little deal, because all eyes are on the big ruckus earlier - the Bibi gang hit town as the joint is moshing in a $6 billion election play.
Dangerous stuff, you'd think. Best to stand back, watch the sparks fly and then figure the lie of the land. Like the Russkies did - yeah?
Uh-uh. Bibi bets the bank - every cent on Mitt, and Bibi makes sure the whole house knows how he's playing it.
He's not alone; a lot of the big money is on Red Mitt. You think some of them would know better - like that Sheldon Adelson guy who's playing with Bibi and Mitt. If he owns half the tables from Las Vegas to Macau, you'd expect him to know the odds, but he goes real long on Mitt - at $53 million, his chips are the biggest pile ever in the game.
Sheldon even put money on Mitt's mates in other shows on the same night - a million-and-a-bit in each of Virginia, Florida and New Jersey. All that and he barely knows Mitt, because early in the game he and his missus blew millions backing Newt … against Mitt.
And as the sun rose, Blue Barack was partying and Mitt was departing, and indeed there was a reckoning. Bibi and Sheldon came away from the game with a straight flush - of losers.
Sheldon, described by a Jewish-American newspaper as a ''Jewish political mega-donor'', is worth billions, so his losses are petty cash. When a cheeky Norwegian reporter bales him up, asking what Sheldon makes of how Mitt's gang spent his money, the tycoon shoots back: "Paying bills - that's how you spend money. Either that or become a Jewish husband - you spend a lot of money."
Maybe the dent in Sheldon's wallet will heal more quickly than the dent in his pride. Jeffrey Goldberg who blogs on the Middle East tweeted to the world: "I want to play poker with Sheldon Adelson." Ouch!
They're still totting the bill for Bibi - and it's going to take a while. In the past, he outsmarted Barack on settlements on land that is not his to settle, using Mitt's gang and a good number in Barack's too, to pile on the pressure; and he tried to corner Barack into fighting the Tehran mullahs for him - or with him.
Some who watched the play at Casino America came away saying these guys will never like each other. But Bibi made a mug of himself backing the wrong horse - and that gives Barack a bit of the moral advantage.
The street is watching. On most corners, someone is saying Barack will punish Bibi. Yeah - how? By doing something or doing nothing? Barack doesn't have to do a thing - Bibi is being pummelled at home.
''A blatant intervention," says Yair Lapid, one of Bibi's challengers for the top job in January.
"A significant breach of the basic rules," reckons Ehud Olmert, maybe another challenger.
Bibi ''is not the right guy", according to a pollster.
"He's definitely caused damage," offers a former general.
On top of all that straight-faced indignation, the mockery from the Israeli Left is shameful. Barack's ''four-more-years'' tweet with a picture of himself wrapped in Michelle, is now twinned with an image of a dejected Bibi - and the caption reads: ''Three more months.''
Clever Hebrew voice-bubbles on hilarious images of Bibi and Barack talking on the phone, go like this:
Barack: Benjamin, what's up? Say, remember how much you intervened and tried to influence the presidential elections here in the States?
Bibi: Yeah, why?
Barack: Oh, no reason …
Now people are asking if maybe Bibi shot himself in the foot - what if his people can't get Barack's people to see things their way in the future?
Bibi says its nearly past time for war against the mullahs; Barack still figures he can talk to them. Bibi says he's up for going it alone - but if they're going to have that kind of fight, most of his political, security and military chiefs want Barack in the ring with them.
But here's the thing. After Iraq and Afghanistan, Barack is done with fighting. Talked about ''moving with confidence beyond this time of war'' and ''a decade of war is ending'' in the big speech in the early hours of Wednesday, didn't he?
Barack might start thinking he's got bigger fish to fry - Moscow, China and those pushy new guys from Brazil and Turkey. And there's that whole Arab Spring thing - maybe he just gets on with making nice with all of them? Just because Bibi keeps jumping up and down doesn't mean Barack has to keep running, does it?
Would Barack be ''punishing'' Bibi if he simply became more receptive to arguments from other quarters?
Seriously, would the sky fall in if Barack nodded in agreement when the Palestinians - as they will in coming weeks - ask for the same standing as the Vatican at the UN?
Many would forgive Barack if he decided ''Why bother?'' after watching Bill and George bang their heads on the Middle East brick wall. But might that change if the impetus came from the Palestinian people themselves, whose reaction to the Arab Spring has been remarkably passive?
But this Bibi guy has a hide like a rhinoceros - now he's accusing all the laughing guys of making a futile effort to ''stir up trouble between us and the US". Ahem, who was it that stirred things up?
It is simple words that wrap up this yarn: ''Not a very good morning for Netanyahu," one of his deputies said as the reckoning began.