WHAT�S THIS ABOUT?

WHAT�S THIS ABOUT? Like any lib, I was somewhat surprised by that Washington Post poll this morning finding that 63 percent of Americans approve of the NSA surveillance program (and when people were asked how they�d feel if their own calls were being monitored, approval went up by 3 percent!).

Seems to me there are three possible explanations for these numbers. First, Americans don�t care that much about civil liberties. Second, on this matter unlike virtually every other matter under the sun, Americans believe Bush and trust him at his word. OK, explanation one is sort of true, but there�ve been notable times in our recent history when clear majorities were outraged by domestic snooping. Explanation two seems highly unlikely.

And so, explanation three: A lot of Americans are still very, very scared of another terrorist attack. And they think, Hey, whatever it takes. This is a good thing for us to be reminded of, I guess. I almost never think about the possibility of another terrorist attack, and it doesn�t seem to me that anybody I know does either. And I and most of the people I�m talking about live in a city that was attacked. But I can�t recall any friend of mine -- both cultural elitists and my �normal American� friends back in West Virginny -- saying �Jeezus, I�m terrified they�re gonna hit us again, any day.� But I guess a lot of people do think that�s the case.

Is anxiety about another attack part of the daily routine of any TAPPED readers or any of your heartland cousins and so on? Am I part of the Barone-ian �soft America�? In any case, if a significant number of Americans believes that the next attack is more or less imminent, well, there are some obvious political lessons there.

--Michael Tomasky

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