'It's the Qualifications, Stupid!'

Every political strategist in the country knows that Bill Clinton's win over George H.W. Bush 16 years ago is usually attributed to the Clinton campaign's disciplined focus on one central theme. "It's the economy, Stupid!" read the message Democratic strategist James Carville posted in his office.

That idea was nothing but a rehash of the old advertising industry KISS principal -- Keep it simple, Stupid -- but it worked.

Republicans would be wise to remember that experience and that lesson. They need to more effectively drive home what should be the McCain-Palin team's simple central message: It's the qualifications, Stupid!

The GOP camp is distracting voters from the clear and compelling message that John McCain is up to the challenge of the presidency and Barack Obama is not. This is a big mistake.

Sure, because he was reaping what he had sown, it was fun to watch Barack Obama squirm, whine, and become so discombobulated that he actually echoed Republicans in pointing out that the mainstream news media are mainly dimwitted dupes.

But feigning shock and demanding apologies by claiming that Obama was calling Governor Sarah Palin a pig because he used that old gag line about putting lipstick on a pig? Making so much of such a sideshow strains the right's credibility and make them sound like Democrats: humorless, whinny, and goofy.

Whether or not Barack Obama had McCain's pick of Governor Palin in mind when he made that lipstick on a pig crack was really not of importance (and he most likely did not).

But whether or not Barack Obama is qualified to be President of the United States is of enormous importance -- and he most certainly is not.

It may be fun, and it sure is poetic justice, to watch Obama and his gang cope with receiving a dose of their own medicine, but let's not mistake emphasizing such sideshows for a winning strategy.

The main message Republicans need to convincingly convey to the American people is a reminder and reinforcement of what they already know deep inside but from which they are too often distracted: In deciding who we should select for the most important job in the world, what we the people of these United States really need to focus on are the qualifications of the job applicants.

Most Americans understand that qualifications for picking a leader for our country means an appropriate combination of experience, character, and judgment, plus a record of accomplishment.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani did an outstanding job of driving home this critical point in his remarks at the Republican National Convention. "You're hiring someone to do a job -- an important job that involves the safety and security of your family," said America's Mayor. Imagine that you have two job applications in your hand."

Exactly the right message to emphasize.