Obama Turkey Pardon – With a wave of his hand, President Barack Obama on Wednesday gave two plump turkeys a Thanksgiving reprieve, noting that without his intervention, “they’d end up next to the mashed potatoes and stuffing.”
The official national Thanksgiving turkey is a 19-week-old, 45-pound bird named Liberty. Its alternate, also spared, is a turkey of the same age and size named Peace.
Liberty sat calmly as Obama, accompanied by daughters Sasha and Malia, offered a blessing, his hand over the turkey’s head. Obama said Liberty had the distinction of being “the luckiest bird on the face of the earth.”
“Right now, he’s also probably one of the most confused,” Obama said.
Obama jokingly cast his pardon as yet another of his “We Can’t Wait” initiatives. “Recently, I’ve been taking a series of executive actions that don’t require congressional approval,” the president said. “Well, here’s another one. We can’t wait to pardon these turkeys.”
In a more sober tone, Obama called on Americans to remember the meaning of Thanksgiving and to be mindful of those who have less.
“Let’s think about those who can’t spend the holiday with their loved ones, especially the members of our military serving overseas,” he said. “I’d like to thank all our men and women in uniform, and their families, for their incredible service and devotion.”
Liberty and Peace were selected from among 30 turkeys raised and groomed by student members of the Future Farmers of America in Willmar, Minn., for a potential presidential amnesty.
The birds’ home state of Minnesota will surely spur analysis about the value of sparing turkeys from a political battleground state ahead of an election year. But the motives might be simpler — Minnesota produces more turkeys than any other U.S. state.
Obama said the students trained the turkeys to face the White House press corps by exposing them to loud noises and flash bulbs.