Tammy Pruett

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Tammy Pruett is the Pocatello, Idaho, mother whose four sons -- Eric, Evan, Greg and Jeff -- are currently serving with the Idaho National Guard in Iraq, deployed in April 2004, only weeks after her husband, Leon, and son, Eren, returned in March, following a year-long stint "where they helped train Iraqi firefighters in Mosul." [1] [2]

Bush's "Anti"-Cindy Sheehan

President George W. Bush, while speaking August 24, 2005, in Nampa, Idaho, to "an enthusiastic crowd of more than 9,000 [National Guard members and Air Force troops] crammed into the Idaho Center in suburban Boise, about a half-hour helicopter ride from the [Tamarack] mountain resort" where he spent Tuesday, "showcased" Tammy Pruett "as a pro-war counterpoint" to Gold Star mother and Iraq war protester Cindy Sheehan. [3][4][5]

Bush quoted Tammy Pruett as saying "I know that if something happens to one of the boys, they would leave this world doing what they believe, what they think is right for our country. And I guess you couldn't ask for a better way of life than giving it for something that you believe in." [6]

"Stung by the ability of one grieving mother to inspire a growing antiwar movement, the White House has found a mom to call its own," Dan Froomkin wrote August 25, 2005. "An obviously delighted President Bush introduced [Tammy] to a boisterous invitation-only audience mostly made up of military families in Idaho yesterday -- then sent her out to talk to the press."

Condolences for Cindy

"After careful planning, the president put a name and face on his supporters, citing one of Idaho’s own as 'a mom named Tammy Pruett,'" according to NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell.

However, the Bush administration may not have planned well enough, or got the spin it expected from the Pruett family's appearance August 24th:

"The Pruetts, who says [sic] they were contacted by the White House last week, quickly and even tearfully offered condolences to families who have lost loved ones, naming Cindy Sheehan.
"'Tammy Pruett says they fully support the war, but adds they do not want to be seen as judging those against it. 'We don’t feel like we’re out here trying to be a poster family, we’re just proud of our sons,'" O'Donnell said.

"Ms. Sheehan's supporters immediately pointed out that while there are mothers who have lost children in Iraq who still support the president, Ms. Pruett had lost none and should not be compared with them," New York Times' reporter Elisabeth Bumiller wrote August 29, 2005.

"'Actually, I would agree with them completely,' Ms. Pruett said," according to Bumiller. "'I have not experienced what they experienced, and I wouldn't judge how they chose to express their grief.'"

"Whether Bush was putting words in an Idaho mother’s mouth, or whether it was her own words, there’s a big difference between supporting the stationing of your kids in a war zone and having your kid killed there," Dave Lindorff wrote August 26, 2005.

The Quote

This is not the first time that Tammy Pruett's quote was heard nationally. Perhaps after learning about the Pruett family from the April 9, 2004, article "Military a family affair: Guard duty has Pruetts coming and going" published in the Pocatello Idaho State Journal, CNN contacted and commenced interviewing the Pruett family sometime in mid 2004. CNN anchor Paula Zahn, who had "learned six men from the same family have or are serving in Iraq," featured the Pruett family in a full-hour segment which originally aired on CNN June 30, 2004, and was rebroadcast June 15, 2005.

"So while this family says war is hard, for them fighting is the right thing to do," Idaho Falls/Pocatello's KIFI Local News 8 wrote June 15, 2005, "Tammy said, 'I know that if something happens to one of the boys they would leave this world doing what they belief, what they think is right for our country and I guess you couldn’t ask for a better way of life then giving it for something that you believe in.'"

"So, it is even worse than it first appeared. Not only is Bush trying to counter the Crawford protests with staged events like the rally in Idaho, he is shopping around for parents who are already on the record supporting the war," commented UncommonSense blogger BH August 25, 2005. "He could not even be bothered, apparently, to talk to the woman face-to-face for a fresh quote! She had already said something that sounded pretty good, so he just went with that. Thank you, and good night. Back to the ranch!"

BH also wrote on August 25th: "It has come to this. The spontaneous anti-war movement inspired by Cindy Sheehan's heartfelt quest for answers is being countered by staged events such as this one and Move America Forward's 'You Don't Speak For Us, Cindy' bus tour."


"It was a travesty for Bush, as a way of striking back at the powerful anti-war protest by Cindy Sheehan and the other Gold Star Mothers who have lost loved ones, to parade this particular mother before the media and to quote her as having said that 'if something happens to one of the boys, they would leave this world doing what they believe, what they think is right for our country'," Dave Lindorff wrote in CounterPunch August 27, 2005.

"Maybe Pruett really said it, though Bush's record with quotes is pretty god-awful. That quote, to me though," Lindorff said, "sounded awfully scripted. It reeked of Rove-speak, for really, what parent would knowingly contemplate the possible loss of a child and speak of it in even remotely positive terms.

"Besides, there is a fundamental difference between Pruett, who has not lost a child or a husband in Iraq, and Sheehan or Gold Star co-founder Celeste Zappala, who each lost a son in that war. For Pruett, the idea of losing a child is still basically just an idea. For Sheehan, Zappala and several thousand other grieving parents and siblings, it is a terrible reality," Lindorff wrote.

Also, Brian David Smith commented August 25, 2005, "Mrs. Pruett has missed the point of winning a war. She tells us if one of her kids died, it would all be validated because her kid died believing in the cause. Sadly, Mrs. Pruett is mistaken. There is no validation in senselessly dying for an ideology. Having a Pruett die does not preserve freedom. Mrs. Pruett has failed to learn a lesson General George S. Patton taught us in World War 2. It is an extremely clear and very practical lesson. General Patton said, …. 'No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.'"

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