The conservative base loves Sarah Palin as their vice-presidential candidate because she’s a gun-toting, abortion-hating mother of five. That may prop up McCain’s right-wing following, but the open question is whether Palin brings in any of the people who truly decide our presidential elections — the swing voters, who don’t hew to the message of one party or the other.

In all the talk about Palin appealing to disenfranchised Hillary supporters, there’s an erroneous assumption as to how large that group is. Besides, the hardcore Hillary-ites tend to be feminists who disagree with Palin on her core positions. Most women I know would object to the notion that they vote based on ovaries, not issues.

To assume that putting a woman on the ticket guarantees that women will put her in office is to forget how badly Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro lost in 1984. It’s like assuming that blacks are voting for Barack Obama just because of his skin color — if that was their only prerequisite, with race more important than political positions, Alan Keyes would have been a presidential contender instead of an also-ran.

The claims of the right, that Palin is ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, are pure political hypocrisy. If Palin was on the Democratic ticket, Republicans would eat her alive, claiming she was far too inexperienced to be that close to running the country. If she were as liberal as she is conservative, you couldn’t find a right-winger anywhere who thought she was qualified for the job.

In a year where we’re going to elect a sitting senator to the presidency for the first time since JFK in 1960, let’s get off the executive experience track — neither Obama nor McCain has any. On the other hand, Jesse Ventura served a full term as a governor. Anyone think he’s vice-presidential material?

Pundits are sure that Joe Biden will have to tread lightly in his debates to avoid looking like he’s beating up on a woman. That’s sexist in its construction, but Biden would be better off ignoring her, not attacking her, and instead limit himself to throwing body punches at John McCain. That’s his role as the pit bull on the Obama ticket.

I’ve received criticism for commenting on how attractive Palin looks, but I’m not the one who put her on the cover of Vogue with her cougar-hair and a sleek deep-cut dress. Don’t tell me McCain would have chosen her if she looked like Rosie O’Donnell.

The Republicans claim that Palin was thoroughly vetted, but McCain admits that he chose her after meeting her once in February, and having one phone conversation with her a couple of weeks ago. I had more interaction with my potential boss when I applied for a job as a pizza delivery guy at age 16.

Let’s stop this talk about Alaska being a huge state. Geographically, yes, but demographically, not so much. Sarah Palin received 115,000 votes when she was elected governor. That seems like a lot if you’re counting total attendance this year for the Washington Nationals, but it’s less than David Cook got when he won “American Idol.” Chicago has counted the votes of more dead people than that. Obama packed 84,000 people into Mile High Stadium on Thursday.

Speaking of last week, when Obama appeared at the end of Biden’s speech, and again the next night at Mile High Stadium, he greeted the crowd with, “Hello, Democrats!!” I immediately wondered why, at events that he surely knew were being broadcast everywhere, he hadn’t said, “Hello, Americans!” Yesterday, John McCain made a similar mistake. In announcing the scaled-back plans for the GOP convention due to the threat of Hurricane Gustav, he said, “If necessary throughout our convention, we will act as Americans and not as Republicans, because America needs us now.” Both of these candidates need to act as Americans at all times. The primaries are long past, and the appeal must be to the electorate as a whole, putting people ahead of party.

One last point about Sarah Palin: how much does she the George W. Bush mold? She pronounces nuclear “nuke-ular.”