The Pardoned Turkey

Yesterday President Obama carried on the presidential Thanksgiving tradition of pardoning a pair of turkeys, named Apple & Cider. According to this Yahoo! article , turkey-pardoning has been a White House tradition for over 60 years. Other websites dispute this, saying the first turkey-pardon occurred in 1989, not 1947. The reasoning behind pardoning a Thanksgiving bird remains a little fuzzy. According to this website , the tradition dates back to Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. His son Tad had a pet turkey, whom Mr. Lincoln supposedly pardoned. Other reasons given include honoring our first president, George Washington, who raised turkeys at Mount Vernon, and honoring Benjamin Franklin, who wanted the national bird to be the turkey instead of the eagle (if he had his way, would we be eating bald eagle on Thanksgiving? Blech!)

No one really seems to know how this tradition got started, but I have to admit that it is secretly one of my favorites. It is absurd, silly, ridiculous, and fun, and if you’re going to have a tradition then by gosh those are the best kind to have. Does the President have better things to do with his time? Yes. Does turkey-pardoning solve any national or international problems? No. Is it an utterly pointless exercise? Yes. But I think it definitely has its place on the list of presidential duties. Being the President is a stressful and thankless job, regardless of what party you’re from. On a daily basis, you are confronted with dozens of decisions that will impact the entire nation, if not the entire world. These decisions are related to a multitude of topics, and include things like deciding to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan, reading and signing or vetoing legislation put forth by Congress, determining whether or not it is in the best interest of the United States to assassinate a crazy South American dictator, etc. These decisions are stressful and often difficult to make, and they are not very fun things to think about. Pardoning a turkey, however, is fun. It is not stressful and does not bring criticism from the other side. It’s just the kind of thing I would want to do to kick off my holiday season if I were president. Happy Thanksgiving and long live the turkey pardon!


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