Tuesday, November 21, 2006

No Pardon for the Thanksgiving Turkey

Every year on the eve of Thanksgiving the White House selects a turkey for the President to pardon, sparing it from ending up on the dinner table for the rest of its life. Last year President Bush pardoned not one but two turkeys. Although this annual ritual reportedly goes back at least 50 years to President Truman (although some say it hearkens back to Lincoln), it seems to me it is getting a bit out of hand and is sending the wrong message to terrorists. I think if this year the President reversed years of tradition and shocked the world by announcing that he was sentencing the turkey to death instead of pardoning it, the terrorists would realize that we really mean business.

Although President Bush cautioned the enemies of the U.S. not to take solace in the victory of Democrats, I don't think that message is sinking in. Some have become emboldened by the Democrats' rhetoric on Iraq, especially now that Henry Kissinger has joined this chorus and recommended that we cut and walk very quickly from Iraq. What's more, sentencing Saddam Hussein to death did not have the intended effect on the American election nor on public opinion in Iraq.

But imagine if President Bush denied the turkey a pardon, signaling a new get-tough attitude. Instead of giving a jokey speech full of holiday bromides, he could show up in the Rose Garden this holiday season wielding an axe and after condemning the turkey to death, he could carry out the execution immediately, the way they do in China. Just to be on the safe side, in case the turkey tries to get away, Vice President Cheney could stand on the sidelines with his shotgun to make sure it doesn't get far. Pictures of the President beheading the turkey would be on the front pages of every newspaper in the Middle East and on Al-Jazeera, replacing the usual pictures of terrorists beheading hostages. That would put the fear of God into those who think they can push the United States around.

Like the video of the swaggering President landing on an aircraft carrier to declare "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq, footage of the President chasing a turkey around the Rose Garden with an axe on live television would play endlessly on cable and on YouTube, which would help raise the President's poll numbers here at home. It would remind people that they elected a man who as governor of Texas for five years presided over the executions of 152 people, and as President for six years has pardoned only 69 people and a dozen turkeys.

It would also help rescue this uniquely American holiday from the political correctness it has succumbed to. Most people emphasize the insipid and sentimental aspects of the origins of Thanksgiving, which is based on how the Wampanoag Indians helped the Pilgrims survive a difficult winter in the New World. They portray the story as an example of peace and brotherhood and tend to downplay what happened in the aftermath, how the rapidly expanding Massachusetts colony was later forced to push Wampanoag off of their land and eventually had to exterminate most of them. Some of their descendants are still trying to get Federal recognition. In the end the Pilgrims were thankful not merely for the food they received but also for the fact that they were not Indians. The true meaning of Thanksgiving is that we are thankful that we live in a country that does not shrink from what needs to done. That's why they don't celebrate Thanksgiving anywhere else in the world, except in Canada, which doesn't really count.

If President Bush served this year's turkey at the White House Thanksgiving dinner instead of sparing its life, I'm sure some turkey rights activists would be up in arms. And Turkey, which abolished the death penalty to join the European Union, would no doubt file a diplomatic protest. But I think seeing President Bush win a battle of man over turkey would restore the confidence of the American people in their President. Seeing the President win a victory is something that all Americans would be thankful for, even if it was only a triumph over a bird.

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Anonymous said...

I think they should show Bush and Cheney on TV killing a whole fifth of Wild Turkey.

OutOfContext said...

You are on the mark with this one, Jon. The President only has so many pardons to give (I don't think you can just print them up like money for the budget) and he should save them for stand-up guys like Scooter and Bob Ney.
What I didn't like was what I thought was a little dig at the Vice President there with that gun crack. I hope you're not turning all wobbly on Cheney like some of these so called conservatives lately.

Carl said...

But Jon?

Shouldn't the turkeys all be in Iraq anyway? After all, we're fighting them over there so we don't have to pardon them over here.

Aaron said...

How right you are, Mr. Swift. Why is Dear Leader showing weakness towards the terrorismists at this critical time? By pardoning the turkeys, he may as well be laying out a big welcome mat for the Islamocommunofascists. We would expect such appeasement from Democrats, but not from Dear Leader.

Anonymous said...

Which turkey were you referring to?

Anonymous said...

Jon, you are a visionary. Too many now think the United States is just a big soft creampuff waiting for some tough guy to come along and eat it. I'll go you one better - the president should waterboard the turkey right there in the Rose Garden. Take that, you New York Times pantywaists!!!! AFTER the turkey's frantic gobbling is correctly interpreted as a confession of intent to harm American interests (doubtless sounding like a lot of confessions extracted in this manner), the president could carry out the sentence with his trusty brush-cutting axe; thereby symbolizing both a defiant response to avian terror, and a president who still knows how to use hand tools! Note* the president should try the execution scene a few times under supervision, to ensure he will not accidentally chop off his foot or something, which those drooling halfwits in the press gallery would likely try to portray as incompetence.

Sophia said...

Canada doesn't count ? Our little Bush (prime minister Harper) is making everything possible to please and to count in the eyes of the American public, which means for Harper only christian fundamentalists and the oil industry, Harper and Bush having the same background. Critics of Harper are accusing him of discrediting Canada at the international stage by backing from Kyoto and increasing spending on Defense (Canada is in first line fighting the Talibans in Afghanistan) but who cares when the international stage for Harper means only Bush and Cheney ?

I don't agree that Canada doen't count. It counts so much for Bush and Cheney now that they sent Dr. Rice dressed as Mata-Hari in order to seduce our foreign minister nice guy Peter MacKay and it worked, MacKay is under the charm of Rice and Canada,s foreign policy is now 100% US aligned.
But we tend to keep our distance with the US, this is why we don't celebrate Thanksgiving the same day and we do it more than one month earlier.
Canada always ahead !

James Higham said...

Wonder what the names were of the pardonned turkeys. Notsaussure hat-tipped me to this post and I'mm heading off to blogroll you now. By the way, my own on the turkeys:


Nate said...

He's a bigger man than I. That turkey wouldn't have stood a chance...

Beth said...

No need to kill the turkeys, silly people, and no need to worry.
That terrorist bastard may have had his life spared--for now--but rest assured, he is in a secure undisclosed location as we chew our Alka Seltzer. We'll get the information we need out of him, the murderous, fowl Turk!

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

Ha! Great minds think alike. But I like yours better; you actually make a point, whereas I was just being a smart ass.


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Saad Zafar said...

Although President Bush cautioned the enemies of the U.S. not to take solace in the victory of Democrats, I don't think that message is sinking in. Some have become emboldened by the Democrats' rhetoric on Iraq, especially now that Henry Kissinger has joined this chorus and recommended that we cut and walk very quickly from Iraq. What's more, sentencing Saddam Hussein to death did not have the intended effect on the American election nor on public opinion in Iraq and it showed bad result

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