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The Big Turkey

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

On Wednesday, President Obama issued a pardon. To a turkey.

Every president since Harry Truman has been given a live bird for Thanksgiving by the National Turkey Federation. No, it apparently doesn’t violate any sort of gift ban, nor should it — sure seems harmless enough to me on that score.

Over the years, several presidents declined to feast on the birds they were given. Then, in more recent times, presidents have made a big media production out of officially pardoning the turkeys (who then reportedly live out their days on George Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon).

So, what’s the problem?

For a photo-op, Mr. Obama — just like Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton before him — saves the gift bird’s life, only to have another unpublicized turkey killed and then devoured behind closed doors.

Neither a vegan or a vegetarian, I certainly don’t begrudge him for eating the meat. I did likewise. What offends is the spectacle of someone seeking to pardon his turkey and eat it, too.

You can’t dismiss this as “mere symbolism,” for the fake pardon symbolizes more than Washington insiders can comprehend. In our nation’s capital, politicians

  • argue for fiscal responsibility one minute and then plunge us further into debt the next,
  • demand sacrifices from the people while living high on the hog, and
  • decry the influence of special interests at press conferences and then deposit their checks at the bank.

One famous turkey lives, thanks to the powerful public kindness of our potentate; another, unknown (no doubt “middle-class”) bird dies for the benefit of that same boss.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.