Talking about the mortgage mess, Lisa laments that she “only understand[s] one in three sentences” on the news anymore.
“I’d dreading the arrival of my 401(k) statement,” Kelly commiserates. “So what’s another five years of work? Seventy is the new 40, right?”
They go on, talking about how John McCain pushed for reform while Obama didn’t. “He knew where his bread was buttered,” Lisa says.
Lisa and Kelly are characters created by Team Sarah, “a coalition of diverse women advancing the Sarah Palin candidacy and mobilizing voters to the McCain-Palin ticket.”
The conversation is one of four currently hosted on the website teamsarah.org, set up by the Susan B. Anthony List Voter Fund. Besides the economy, the kitchen-table dialogues so far discuss health care, Palin’s record in Alaska, the advantages and safeguards of divided government and the ticket’s maverickyness. (Click on each aforementioned topic to listen.)
As the website describes the project, “Team Sarah’s Lisa and Kelly conversations represent the real concerns of two undecided women voters. Both are working mothers, Lisa is married and Kelly is divorced. They are interested in the presidential race, watching the coverage, and talking with friends and families about their impressions. As close friends, they catch up with one another daily, discussing the issues close to many women’s hearts.”
According to SBA List Candidate Fund’s Marjorie Dannenfelser, the group is planning a call to bring its message to 1.3 million registered female voters in battleground states. According to the SBA List, “An estimated 5.4 million pro-life women probably will fail to vote this year — unless they are activated and mobilized.” Team Sarah hopes to reach them in these next three weeks, as the clock ticks on polls opening. Several prominent women are involved with the project, including D.C. vet Barbara Comstock, former First Lady candidate Jeri Thompson, and actress Janine Turner, formerly (appropriately) of Northern Exposure. (Turner spoke to National Review Online about Sarah Palin and the effort on Friday.)
Jane Abraham, wife of the former energy secretary, and Michigan senator Spence Abraham, who is general chairman of both the Susan B. Anthony List and the SBA List Candidate Fund, explain the goals behind the Team Sarah effort: “While all polls show that women in America are far more pro-life than pro-abortion, the majority of women in the political arena don’t represent those views. The Susan B. Anthony List’s mission is to mobilize, advance and represent pro-life women in politics. In a nutshell, we work to make sure that the women in the political arena reflect women across our land. Sarah Palin is a modern day Susan B. Anthony. She is strongly pro-life and has been a solid advocate in the political arena. To have her elected Vice President would be a tremendous accomplishment for the pro-life community. So, the Team Sarah project is well worth the SBA List Candidate Fund’s time and money.”
On Palin, Abraham says: “I think Sarah Palin is unique. She is very charismatic. She is smart. She is strong. She connects with America because she is very much like the average American. She saw some things in her community she didn’t like and did something about it. Yet she grapples with the same family challenges we all have. And she enjoys many sports and other activities like the rest of us. There certainly hasn’t been another woman in politics like her, and I think people will be hard-pressed to find a man with her qualities.”
Why does Abraham think a man couldn’t do do this woman’s job? Unlike with some politically active women, it’s not an anti-man thing. It’s about backing up the men with some feminine leadership, fighting for a culture of life, and striving to protect American freedoms in the most motherly way. SBA List/Fund president Dannenfelser further elucidates: “Truly, Team Sarah was a spontaneous movement to organize because of the leadership Palin inspired. Her speech at the convention brought women out of the nooks and crannies of the culture and politics who I believe had lost hope in her type of female leadership. They were so beaten down by the Steinem-Schroeder-Boxer-Pelosi model of women’s leadership, it was easy to lose hope that another model would rise up. And then she did. She looked directly into the camera (our faces) and articulated all the convictions most women believe. She is not a victim of anything.”
Speaking for the Lisas and Kellys of America, Dannenfelser says, “We know we are capable of many things — including raising intact traditional families and meeting the crisis in culture and politics that has been laid at our feet. She is the poster child of the future of the women’s movement. She is a traditional woman doing some non-traditional, important things. Not everyone is called to the life she has been. But thank goodness she has been. Because now we see a modern women experiencing everything many of us women experience — the primacy of the obligation to our husband and children while trying to meet the demands of the culture around us.”
Palin even resonated in Washington. Dannenfelser remembers: “The week after the convention, every woman in the politics, media, and policy worlds I knew were ready to celebrate Palin’s rise and roll up their sleeves to 1) defend her from vicious personal attacks and 2) advance her candidacy, for which this moment calls. She is not perfect. None of us are. But which one of us could have risen to this occasion as she has — with that backbone? She is not diminished by her attackers. And we need to advance all the reasons her candidacy makes sense — as women and Americans.”
But Team Sarah does not seek to diminish the top of the ticket while celebrating John McCain’s running mate. Dannenfelser tells NRO: “I was an early supporter of McCain. He is a man of his generation. This is good and bad. I really get both sides because I grew up around stoic southern men just like him. He is a man of honor who holds certain values as sacrosanct but is private (read: impossible) sometimes when it comes time to express them. So Palin adds the courageous straightforwardness on “uncomfortable” topics like abortion and marriage that he doesn’t feel on instinct. They are a perfect match. Before, the project of helping them get elected was a job. Now, it is a passion I couldn’t lose sight of even if I wanted to. Now my whole family wears the T-shirts. The week after Palin’s speech, the SBA list got calls all week looking for T-shirts, giving money, looking for volunteer opportunities. This is the same spirit behind Team Palin. I have not witnessed this exuberance since the first Reagan campaign. The situation then, by the way, was similar. The mainstream media hated him: He was dumb, out of touch, and the election was over, weeks before the vote. He was behind in the polls one week out. And he won.”
And that’s what Team Sarah would like to see — with a little help from Lisa and Kelly — Sarah Palin do, standing alongside McCain.
– Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.