As the current President of the United States dissolves into tears while awarding the Medal of Honor posthumously to a Navy SEAL who threw himself onto a live grenade in order to save his fellow soldiers, the Republican nominee is steeling himself for the fight ahead. A series of new TV ads (some call them awful) shape McCain as a man of resolve, willing to defend America and all she stands for (who knew she was a she?).

Meanwhile, the candidate’s strikingly different views on Iraq have been magnified in recent days, as the top American commander in Baghdad, General David Petraeus, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Senators Clinton, McCain and later Obama took a break from the campaign trail to question Petreus, and while both Democrat candidates emphasised that troops should be withdrawn as soon as possible, McCain stuck to his belief that there was significant progress in Iraq.

McCain’s god awful ads: Meet ‘Johm McCain”: Is McCain’s first ad really as bad as blogger “Richelieu” says. No. It’s worse! The problem is a) the voice-over voice, simultaneously pompous, condescending and saccharine, almost a parody of an announcer’s voice. Think “Real Men of Genius.” b) The disjointed rhythm of the script, with it’s fake-profound get-up-and-get-a-beer questions substituting for arguments (“What must a President believe about us. About America? That she is worth protecting? …”) in which the insertion of a groaning cliche (“Has he walked the walk?”) seems almost like a bit of down-to-earth relief,** all building to a semi-anticlimactic video of a captured McCain lying in a North Vietnamese bed and reciting his name and serial number. … It’s almost as if McCain’s ad man secretly likes Obama. Correction: Not secretly! — Slate

McCain’s war record: Unlike other war heroes who have been shot down in battle and risked their lives behind enemy lines, such as former South Dakota Senator George McGovern, McCain has chosen to make his military service a central feature of his political campaigning. Unfortunately, McCain and his supporters are hyper-sensitive about discussion’s of the Arizona senator’s service as a fighter pilot and a prisoner of war. So they go crazy whenever anyone deviates from the campaign’s official story-line. — The Nation

The Republican challenge: It is April of 2008, a time when the Republican brand is at an all-time low. And yet somehow, some way, John McCain is hanging in there. He is proving to be perhaps the only electable Republican in the country, short of Colin Powell or the ineligible Arnold Schwarzenegger. Conservatives may not be thrilled with what a McCain presidency means, but if social conservatives care about the makeup of the House and Senate, as well state legislatures and the courts, then they should rally around McCain. — Chuck Todd, MSNBC

My little jerk: It’s no secret that John McCain has a temper. HuffPost has a collection of stories on McCain’s blow ups here, including Bob Dole’s rationale for the behavior. Obviously most people don’t like it when McCain loses his cool. Fellow republican Lindsay Graham, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to mind. According to Politico, Lindsay Graham likes it when McCain calls him “little jerk.” — The Huffington Post

Bush’s tears: Clearly choked up, and at times wiping away his own tears, President Bush awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously at the White House Tuesday to Navy SEAL Petty Officer Michael Monsoor, who was killed in Iraq in September of 2006 when he fell on a grenade to save comrades during fighting in Ramadi. Monsoor was the fourth service member to receive the nation’s highest award for valor in the 6 1/2 years of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Bush awarded the medal in the White House’s East Room Tuesday to Monsoor’s parents. — ABC News

The Benetton line up – we need more white people: Clearly, the Benneton-ish displays of diversity on the risers behind Obama (and Hillary, too) don’t just happen by accident; the campaign advance teams are exquisitely sensitive to the racial make-up of the people standing behind the candidates, so, inevitably, they shuffle people around to make a prettier picture. I guess the error is the actual use of the words “white person” when doing the shuffling. Maybe they need to develop some code words: “We need a scoop of vanilla in the second row!”  — TNR blog