New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller today tried her best to write an article without mentioning anti-war heroine Cindy Sheehan, as well as without impugning the president. Unfortunately, she failed.
In an article about the president’s speech to thousands of National Guard members and their families in Nampa, Idaho, it only took two paragraphs before the story turned from Mr. Bush’s vision of Iraq and his appreciation for the sacrifice these families and their relatives are making into another in a long litany of Cindyfests:
Defending his administration's military stance for the third day in a row, he presented another tough, if implicit, rebuttal to war critics like Cindy Sheehan, the mother of an American soldier killed in Iraq who has generated a monthlong protest outside his Texas ranch. Mr. Bush said, "As long as I'm the president, we will stay, we will fight and we will win the war on terror."
The president said withdrawing troops now - as Ms. Sheehan advocates - would "only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations."
As Ms. Sheehan advocates? Has Ms. Sheehan now been promoted to the title of "advocate"?
Yet, most abhorrent is this:
In a thinly disguised counterpoint to Ms. Sheehan, Mr. Bush showcased an Idaho woman in the crowd, Tammy Pruett, whose husband and five sons have served or are serving in Iraq. "There are few things in life more difficult than seeing a loved one go off to war," Mr. Bush said. "Here in Idaho, a mom named Tammy Pruett, I think she's here, knows that feeling six times over."
A thinly disguised counterpoint? Excuse me? This thinly disguised counterpoint has had almost her entire family serving in Iraq at one time or another. In fact, this family was the subject of a CNN story in June:
The Pruetts have four sons serving in combat in Iraq. Eric, Evan, Greg and Jeff are completing an 18-month tour of duty in Iraq with the Army National Guard. Leon and the couple's fifth son, Eren, are just back from Iraq, and daughter Emily would have gone but had not completed her training when her brothers shipped out.
Why would one family be willing to risk so much for the war in Iraq? The Pruetts feel it is their duty to serve, that other people in the world have a right to some of the freedoms and privileges Americans have. And, as Tammy Pruett says, "If not my sons, then whose?"
Some thinly disguised counterpoint. This wouldn’t be so thin if Tammy Pruett was standing next to Cindy Sheehan calling the president a terrorist and a liar.
Once again, what this demonstrates is how the media only views the president meeting families who are opposed to the war as reaching out. By contrast, meeting with Mrs. Pruett, or the other 19 families that Mr. Bush sat down with after this speech who have lost relatives in Iraq and Afghanistan, is thoroughly irrelevant if they don’t share Cindy Sheehan’s views.