It seems the newest accessory for politicians is not an outstanding rsum, a solid platform or even a popular running mate.
It's a piece of metal with some red, white and blue enamel: the lapel pin.
And for probable Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, a missing American flag pin is his fashion faux pas.
Before the Illinois senator decorated his lapel with the flag, political pundits everywhere treated the missing accessory as a real flag burning and called Sen. Obama unpatriotic.
Well, we want to know: Who runs for president when he or she is harboring anti-American sentiments? Patriotism is implied in the job description.
Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, a decorated war veteran and someone who has been around American politics for years, has faced criticism of his own recently.
We're pretty damn sure he's pro-America, but he's not immune to the political chatter.
Gen. Wesley Clark recently said being a war hero and being shot down during the Vietnam War doesn't necessarily warrant a presidential campaign.
His comment has drawn attacks from both McCain's and Obama's political teams.
Meanwhile, the pundits -- the political Big Brother, if you will -- keep everyone on their collective toes. But everyone makes mistakes; fashion magazines devote pages to them.
If Obama has bigger things on his mind than remembering his lapel pin, we're all better off.
And McCain's war history might not help his economic plan, but it's a record for which he should receive praise, not criticism.
Let's not lose sight of our priorities here. Appearances aren't everything, and patriotism isn't politics.
But ever since the televised debate between Kennedy and Nixon, Americans have judged their candidates not only on their platforms, but also their looks.
It's not fair, but it's the American way.
That's not to say criticism should be absent from this or any race. Everyone has skeletons in their closets, and the political secrets are usually the most scandalous.
But the mistakes that should worry us shouldn't be those of a fashion disaster nature.
And people with more storied pasts than McCain have run successful political campaigns as well. Even a Hollywood star took a bow in the Oval Office.
McCain is as deserving a candidate as anyone, and we now have an election of experience versus youth.
In this election, the Internet and 24-hour news services such as CNN and MSNBC have analyzed everything from lapels to exit strategies -- all of it becoming a federal case.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Americans need to focus on the issues. Americans need to focus on the issues. Americans need to focus on the issues.
Healthcare. College tuition. Gas prices. Things that actually matter to voters, no matterwhere representatives sit.
Leave the catty comments about what people are wearing to those not yet of voting age.
And remember what McCain has done for the country, not how it doesn't help his campaign.
Let's agree on one thing -- pride, activism and patriotism will never go out of style. But lapel pins? Fingers crossed.