The Egyptian genie can't be put back in the bottle
President Barack Obama's spokesman has said that protests in Egypt will only get bigger and bigger if the government there doesn't quicken the pace of reform.
Robert Gibbs, grasping at a suitably Middle Eastern image, said the notion that the genie could be put back in the bottle had long gone. He said it was clear that the Egyptian government's action had yet to meet the minimum threshold for the people of Egypt. He used the word "threshold" about five times during his briefing.
He added that the US was reviewing its aid programme to Egypt, saying: "We are watching quite closely," and the Egyptian government's restraint and reform "will determine what that aid will look like".
Some think the White House has been behind the curve for years and is still backing a process that won't go anywhere.
But there's no doubt it is ratcheting up the pressure even if the focus has shifted. There is no longer much talk about Mr Mubarak's early departure. Instead it is urging specific changes.
US Vice-President Joe Biden has been phoning his opposite number in Egypt, Omar Suleiman, on an almost daily basis. His most recent call (yesterday) was the toughest yet.
He said the emergency law, which has been in force for 43 years and allows a broad range of powers, should be lifted immediately.
Mr Biden also told the man in charge of transition that the ministry of the interior should be restrained immediately and should stop the arrest, beating and detention of journalists and activists and that there should be a clear policy of no reprisals.
The White House has found a form of words to distance itself from the idea it is dictating change. It stresses that it is not what Mr Obama wants, but what the Egyptian people want that matters. But it means the White House has made the satisfaction of the demonstrators its yardstick of progress.
But the Egyptian government ignored Mr Obama's speech last week, it ignored Mr Biden's call yesterday and there is no reason to think this latest briefing will have any more impact.