On Monday, as BarbinMD noted, John McCain denigrated Barack Obama's experience in foreign affairs.
"Senator Obama obviously has no national security experience, and therefore that's reflected in his judgment on a number of those issues."
It's untrue of course; Obama serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But this is a larger issue than simply another falsehood from John McCain. It's also about McCain's hypocrisy, and indeed his own judgment.
The touchstone for the charge that Obama is too "inexperienced" to be president is this: Where did the speaker stand on George W. Bush's candidacy - both in 2000 and in 2004?
In 2000, Bush had no experience whatever in national security or foreign policy, nor indeed any experience in Washington. Bush was both naive and ignorant in the extreme about world affairs. The contrast with Al Gore could not have been sharper. And yet, most Republicans backed Bush over Gore. John McCain himself endorsed Bush in 2000, and in fact worked hard to put in the White House the grossly inexperienced Texan (video here).
"I look forward to enthusiastically campaigning for Gov. Bush over the next six months."
So McCain is concerned about experience only in so far as it helps or hinders electing Republicans. The same is true, I suspect, of the vast majority of critics of Obama's level of experience.
In any case, Bush in 2004 demonstrates why the "experience" argument fails. No candidate in 2004 could rival Bush in experience because he'd already served as president. If experience was your yardstick then Bush was your man in 2004, hands down. And what a disaster Bush's second term has turned out to be, for all his experience! In living memory we have several examples of other disastrous presidents who brought abundant experience to the White House - Richard Nixon and Herbert Hoover spring to mind - but George W. Bush in 2004 is perhaps the clearest proof that experience is a pretty poor predictor of presidential success.
And yes, having learned nothing from Bush's disastrous first term, the "maverick" John McCain campaigned hard for the Republican candidate in 2004. In fact in his speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention, McCain praised Bush as "tested".
Thus whether it's Bush in 2000 or Bush in 2004, the man who is arguably the worst president in American history is the perfect test of whether to take seriously the argument from "experience". And in both elections, wouldn't you know, McCain is hoist by his own petard.
McCain is nothing if not consistently inconsistent. On Monday, he was exploring every possible way to put down Barack Obama.
McCain, who also questioned Obama's credentials on the economy, was asked if he thought Obama had experience in any areas. Probably, McCain said, "I think on many issues, (but) certainly not on the level of mine."
Contrast what McCain said in 2004 about why candidates shouldn't promote their own credentials.
Kerry, who McCain called a friend, has used his tour of duty in Vietnam as a contrast to his opponents who didn't serve. McCain said it's inappropriate politically for candidates to "compare their credentials," because voters will do that. Later, he said he wasn't criticizing Kerry, only making a political observation.
McCain is nothing if not consistently inconsistent.