President Obama made quips about amnesty and executive actions at today’s turkey-pardoning ceremony that left Malia and Sasha less than thrilled.
Usually held outdoors, the pardoning of turkeys “Mac” and “Cheese” took place in the White House Cross Hall due to snow coming down outside.
“I am here to announce what I’m sure will be the most talked-about executive action this month,” Obama said. “Today, I’m taking an action fully within my legal authority — the same kind of action taken by Democrats and Republican presidents before me — to spare the lives of two turkeys, Mac and Cheese, from a terrible and delicious fate.”
The pardoned turkeys were raised by the son of the chairman of the National Turkey Federation. Cheese won an online pardoning contest, with Mac as alternate.
“Let’s face it — if you’re a turkey, and you’re named after a side dish your chances of escaping Thanksgiving dinner are pretty low. So these guys are well ahead of the curve. They really beat the odds,” Obama said.
“It is important to know that turkeys have always had powerful allies. Many of you know that Benjamin Franklin once wrote, ‘I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character…the turkey is, in comparison, a much more respectable bird.’ I think these two turkeys would agree with Mr. Franklin. And they’ll get to live out the rest of their days, respectably, at a Virginia estate.”
Obama quipped that “some will call this amnesty,” but “don’t worry, there’s plenty of turkey to go around.”
The Obamas planned to take a couple of turkeys “that didn’t make the cut” to a local food pantry.
“Finally, The Washington Post recently questioned the wisdom of the whole turkey pardon tradition,” the president continued. “‘Typically on the day before Thanksgiving,’ the story went, ‘the man who makes decisions about wars, virus outbreaks, terrorism cells and other dire matters of state, chooses to pardon a single turkey … plus an alternate.'”
“Tell me about it. It is a little puzzling that I do this every year. But I will say that I enjoy it because with all the tough stuff that swirls around in this office, it’s nice once in a while just to say: Happy Thanksgiving. And this is a great excuse to do it.”
Obama had to urge his daughters to come over and pose near the turkey. When he asked if they wanted to pet it, Malia responded, “No.”
— Emily Samsel (@emilysamsel) November 26, 2014
So Over Watching Dad Pardon Turkeys: The Sasha and Malia Story pic.twitter.com/46rH9GnvUS
— Jason Sparks (@sparksjls) November 26, 2014
— Diane Jeanty (@dianejeanty) November 26, 2014