QUOTE OF THE DAY…. Given his age, it’s impressive to see the ease with which Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) can move large goalposts.

The anti-gay senator started by saying we can’t repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” until the Secretary of Defense says it’s a good idea.

When the Pentagon chief did just that, McCain shifted gears and said repeal should wait for the go-ahead from the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff. When the chairman did just that, McCain said he’d take his cues from Colin Powell. When Powell endorsed repeal, McCain said he’d honor the opinions of servicemen and women.

And now that service members are on board with repeal, McCain told NBC News yesterday, “I’m paying attention to the commandant of the Marine Corps.”

It’s bordering on amusing.

But note what else McCain said yesterday:

“In all due respect, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is not directly in charge of the troops. The Secretary of Defense is a political appointee who’s never been in the military. And the president, obviously, has had no background or experience in the military whatsoever.”

Let’s take these one at a time.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the nation’s highest-ranking military officer. For McCain to dismiss his relevance in a debate over military service requirements is pretty outrageous.

The Secretary of Defense was originally appointed by a Republican, who happened to earn John McCain’s confirmation vote. And when McCain told a national television audience that Robert Gates has “never been in the military,” McCain was lying — Gates was a second lieutenant in the Air Force.

And finally, when McCain says President Obama “has had no background or experience in the military whatsoever,” that, too, is a lie. The president has served for nearly two years as the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces in a time of two foreign wars. McCain is easily confused, but commanding the finest fighting force in the world counts as “experience in the military.”

Update: McCain also told the Daily Caller that he doesn’t consider the President of the United States or the Secretary of Defense to be “military leaders.” This guy really has lost it.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.