Up and running for president Hillary Clinton has announced, "Let's be clear. Military options for Iran are on the table."
Meanwhile, Mr. Obama has indicated the "big stick" regarding Ukraine (i.e. military action) is "off the table." It has been replaced with powerful sanctions to make life difficult for several Russian oligarchs.
These announcements resonate variously with the American political establishment and mainstream media.
For neo-conservatives like Mr. McCain, "off the table" is not an option.
A representative for Mr. McCain has said, "If it's off the table it's not on the table. But all options are on the table is the default position, a priori, for everything that takes place on this planet."
Accordingly, the "all options are on the table" principle is badly needed to mount proper diplomacy and leadership regarding the world's resources and national security.
This "all options" doctrine has now held for more than a decade, forcefully brought forth under Mr. Bush with his Iraq war, and Mr. Cheney with his "full spectrum dominance" theory.
Ms. Clinton will continue the "all options are on the table" formula because the phrasing has strong tone and resonance, and she's used to it from her time as Secretary of State.
Moreover, the Iranians simply cannot be trusted on anything they say and are probably even now refining plutonium in their basements and deep beneath parking garages.
The main point being, according to learned pundits, that controlling the world's resources is the primary objective of the US military and governing establishment, which means "all options absolutely have to be on the table."
Even if the Iranians were to scrabble on their knees proclaiming no further interest in nuclear power, and a willingness to reduce their industries to coal, all options would still be on the table because resources must be guarded properly.
Even if they are somebody else's resources.
And even if any shifting template deep within a seabed unearths new tar sands.
If that happens anywhere on the planet "all options will be on the table" as a matter of national defense, plus points to be scored with the voting public.
Meanwhile, in the Black Sea ExxonMobil and the Russian oil company Rosneft have emerged in current news as "partners."
They are also interested in joint projects ranging from the Gulf of Mexico to Alberta and the Arctic.
Are these corporations side-stepping, or leaping over, the "all options are on the table" policy?
A joint spokesperson for these companies explained that "all options on the table" talk is enjoyed by politicians particularly, but not relevant to actual corporate business.
He added that internationally for corporations "options" means "deals." In this sense, all deals are on the table.
Or under the table, in the event a deal might get in the way of politics and directing the affairs of the world properly.