McCain Gets Pat on Back For Not "Harshly Attack[ing]" Hillary

In a possible sign of coverage to come, Marc Santora's Monday piece from New Hampshire, "McCain Takes on Clinton, With an Eye to Civility," provided a pat on the back to Sen. John McCain for his refusal to engage leading Democratic candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton onissues of scandal and secrecy - or as the Times might put it, "harsh attacks."

"Senator John McCain tried Sunday night to make the case that he was best positioned to defeat Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in a general election, outlining a series of contrasts with her on issues including national security and health care.

"In a speech here that his campaign described as the kind of pointed but respectful approach he will take for the rest of the campaign, Mr. McCain sought to tap into the anti-Clinton sentiment seen to be driving many Republican primary voters, particularly in New Hampshire.

"At the same time, he tried to do it in a markedly different way from his two main rivals, Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mitt Romney, who have both harshly attacked Mrs. Clinton in making their own cases for electability."

The Times' nodded approval in the text box:

"Trying to point to differences without taking shots."

Later, reporters went looking to the mild-mannered McCain for insight into the strange conservative mindset which has such a "visceral" dislike to Hillary:

"Mr. McCain, when asked after the speech why Mrs. Clinton inspired such a visceral reaction among conservatives, said it was fueled by a media environment that thrives on clashes between extremes."

Has the Times ever asked, say, Sen. Joe Lieberman why Bush inspires such hatred among liberals? Or do they find it so obvious they don't need to ask?