It's probably the biggest Washington news story of the week: Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, is set to address a joint session of Congress Tuesday. The drama is high. Netanyahu arranged the speech with House Speaker John Boehner, forgoing the White House. Amplifying the drama is the fact that the speech is very likely to be critical of President Obama's policy toward a nuclear deal with Iran. Reactions on Capitol Hill have been along partisan lines. Thirty-four Democratic lawmakers plan to boycott the speech in solidarity with the president.
Netanyahu has become divisive in Congress, and his speech will be dissected incessantly in Washington. But will the story make a splash in the country at large? Not necessarily. In a recent Pew opinion survey, 35 percent of respondents indicated they held no opinion on the Israeli prime minister. Twenty-three percent say they've never heard of him at all. Which is to say, Netanyahu and his politics aren't a typical polarizing topic for Americans. The Wall Street Journal recently asked registered voters if congressional Republicans should have asked Netanyahu to come speak. While 48 percent said they disapproved of the appearance, "just over a fifth said they didn't know enough to say."