For the second year in a row, President Obama used the annual turkey-pardoning ceremony at the White House to make light of his recent political misfortunes.
“Some of you may know that recently I’ve been taking a series of executive actions that don’t require congressional approval,” Obama said, referencing the “we can’t wait” campaign he’s taken across the country to drum up support for his jobs bill. “Well, here’s another one. We can’t wait to pardon these turkeys. Literally. Otherwise they’d end up next to the mashed potatoes and stuffing.”
Last year, pardoning turkeys Apple and Cider, Obama said he was saving the birds from receiving the same “shellacking” his party had just received in midterm elections.
This year’s turkeys, patriotically named Liberty and Peace, came to the White House from Willmar, Minn., where they beat out 100 competitors for the honor of being spared from the Thanksgiving table. The turkeys spent the traditional eve of their pardoning in the posh W Hotel before Wednesday morning’s ceremony on the north portico of the White House.
From here, the two will follow the footsteps of their predecessors to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s historical estate. They will be on display for a special “Christmas at Mount Vernon” event through Jan. 6. Apple and Cider won't be there, however; the two turkeys died this year, as birds that are raised for the Thanksgiving table are prone to a host of health problems.
While the turkeys enjoy a better fate than their counterparts this time of year, they must work to acclimate to the limelight. They were raised and trained by Minneapolis and St. Paul schoolchildren, who exposed them to loud noises and flashbulbs “so that they’d be ready to face the White House press corps,” Obama joked.
And he recounted for the crowd of about 50 the toughest part of the turkey training: “learning how to gobble without really saying anything.”