FEAR….Mike Tomasky is musing today about why most Americans don’t seem to care that the NSA is tracking their telephone calls, and comes up with three possible explanations. He doesn’t think his first two hold water, though:

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.

This happens to be a question I’ve wondered about myself: Just how afraid are most Americans of another terrorist attack? That is, at a gut level, not an intellectual level. And how would we find out? Ordinary polling doesn’t seem like it’s up to the job.

POSTSCRIPT: For what it’s worth, I’m not sure fear is the key issue driving attitudes toward the NSA program. I suspect (a) approval numbers will go down as there’s more coverage of the program and the whole thing sinks in a bit more, and (b) most Americans just don’t have much appreciation for the way programs like these inevitably get out of hand. But I still think Tomasky’s question is an interesting one.

POSTSCRIPT 2: Speaking of the exploitation of fear, did you catch the Rob Corddry segment on the Daily Show last night? It was hilarious.

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