- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The press already has billed President Obama’s first jaunt to Israel since entering office as yet another charm offensive, a “symbolic visit” or simply a photo op. The White House does not appear to be festooning the four-day trip with any fancy predictions either.

“This visit is not about trying to lay down a new initiative or complete our work on a particular issue. Frankly, there’s value in traveling precisely at a time when there is a new government in Israel and a new government in the United States and just having a broad strategic conversation,” said Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes.

But please. When the time comes, if the times comes, ask the right questions, some insist. Make progress on Iran’s nuclear threat, the Syrian implosion and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. So says Joel C. Rosenberg, former aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a Fox News contributor.

“There are still three critical questions the president must answer on this important trip. Have diplomacy, sanctions and covert operations failed to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons? If so, will President Obama order airstrikes against Iran, or give Israel the green light to hit Iran’s nuclear sites since other measures have failed? If not, why not?” Mr. Rosenberg asks.

“Here’s the sobering truth. With his new government now in place, including new Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, Netanyahu is ready to launch a massive pre-emptive military strike soon, and alone, if need be. Netanyahu and Yaalon would prefer the U.S. lead decisively toward peace,” he continues. “Netanyahu and company are unsure if they can trust Obama, and have yet to get clarity from Washington.”

JUST A LITTLE REMINDER

“Prepared to Prevail”

— Official motto of the 36th Wing at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam, host unit to B-52 training flights over Korea; the 13,000-mile round trip flights are part of the Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence.

C-SPAN’S SURPRISE AUDIENCE

C-SPAN celebrates its 34th anniversary this week. But wait. C-SPAN could be an emerging as a hipster network. Younger viewers are now the largest regular audience for the no-frills broadcaster where policy wonks are king and opinionated prattle is minimal. And therein lies the appeal to the young and restless. They have a taste for unvarnished content.

C-SPAN offers “raw uncut coverage of their political heroes,” says Hart Research pollster Allan Rivlin, who is tracking the growing audience.

Among the 47 million regular C-SPAN viewers, he found that 51 percent are male and 49 percent female; 26 percent are liberal, 31 percent conservative, and 39 percent moderate. Almost half are college graduates. Viewership is highest, however, among the 18 to 49-year-olds, with 28 percent reporting having watched at least once a week, compared with 19 percent for 50- to 64-year-olds. Twenty-two percent are 65 and older.

“This growth in C-SPAN viewership, especially among the youngest groups, is surprising in this time of generalized media fragmentation,” Mr. Rivlin observes. “But it is not so mysterious in that C-SPAN offers the emerging group of information free-agents access to the raw uncut coverage of their political heroes, and sometimes perhaps their villains, they can then share on blogs and social networks.”

Among other things, 43 percent have watched their local lawmakers on C-SPAN, while a third share the network’s videos by uploading or linking them to a website. The survey of 1,229 U.S. adults was conducted Jan. 10 to 17 and released Tuesday.

STEELE VS. PRIEBUS

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