What happened to the John McCain I knew? What happened to the man who fought against dirty campaigns? What happened to the man who called for the immediate closure of Guantanamo Bay and fought against torture? Where is that funny old man who came onto “The Daily Show” because he cared about the youth vote? Where is this maverick I once felt was one of the few good voices in the Republican Party? John McCain, the Maverick, has died, and the Republican machine has reanimated one of America’s greatest heroes and turned him into something he never wanted to be.

The decision to attack Obama instead of his policies started early in the campaign. First we had the “celebrity” ads, comparing Obama to Hilton and Spears. In those ads, Obama was not “fit to be President.” From there, the fear began to arise. However, it was the next ad that would really rock the foundations. Obama was called “the one.” The ad poked fun at Obama’s religious speech and compared him to the messiah. It took a scene out of “The Ten Commandments” and had Obama’s presidential seal rise out of the splitting red sea. The ad ended by stating “Obama may be ‘the one’, but is he ready to lead?” Several critics argued that the ad had undertones painting Obama as the Antichrist as described in the book series Left Behind. In that series, the Antichrist is an upcoming politician with similar rhetoric to what Obama was stating in the ad. Further, the Book of Daniel describes the Antichrist as an eagle like figure that will rise out of the sea (hence why the Obama seal was chosen to rise out of the Red Sea in the ad instead of his normal red white and blue seal). This further contributed to e-mails already circulating among many Christians calling Obama the Antichrist. It didn’t help when a minister started off a prayer at a McCain campaign last week by stating that non-Christians want Obama to win and that Christians need to pray for his defeat.

Finally, Palin stated that Obama “pals around with terrorists” and the chair of the Virginia GOP stated Obama and bin Laden “both have friends that bombed the Pentagon.” This refers to the new Republican line of linking Obama to former domestic terrorist William Ayers, who happened to serve on a community service board for school funds with Obama in Chicago from 1995 to 2000. Mr. Ayers committed the attacks when Obama was eight years old living in Indonesia. Furthermore, Ayers has cleaned himself up in the last 40 years and has become a college professor. If McCain can condemn his torturers, but normalize relations with Vietnam, then certainly Obama can condemn the Ayers past while working to give 50 million dollars to Chicago schools.

And now McCain is going to take advantage of Joe Biden’s honesty. Last week Joe Biden stated that Obama will be tested with an early international crisis, and Obama will be ready for it. Now McCain has an ad stating that Obama is welcoming an attack on this country, airing a commercial splicing Joe Biden’s speech showing images of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the president of Iran and other terrorist marching. This ad once again attacks the integrity of Obama, stating that Obama is not fit to lead. But how far off was Biden’s statement? George Bush has 9/11. Clinton had the first World Trade Center attack. Bush Sr. invaded Panama and Iraq. Reagan lost 241 Americans in a suicide bombing in Beirut. Every president will suffer an international crisis, and the next president will be inheriting two wars. Yet McCain claims that his presidency will scare away all enemies.

The McCain campaign has called Obama a celebrity, “the one,” the Antichrist, a friend of a terrorist, a liar, and an unfit leader. It’s sad that McCain even wonders why his supporters are so afraid of Obama. Because the Republican Machine has taken over, the McCain I knew, the hero, the maverick, is gone. McCain wanted to put his country first, but his party wanted to put themselves firstand dragged McCain to a place he never wanted to go.