The annual White House tradition of pardoning a turkey continued on Tuesday when President Trump spared two beautiful white poultry behemoths — Bread and Butter — from the fate of Thanksgiving dinner.
As the traditionally light-hearted speech began, President Trump wished everyone in attendance and the country as a whole a “very happy Thanksgiving” while giving thanks to Almighty God.
“As we gather this week with loved ones across our beautiful land, we give thanks to God for the many gifts that he has bestowed upon us,” the president said.
Without further ado, President Trump then gave “honor to the beautiful feathered friend” in attendance while taking a few swipes at his political enemies by comparing the media to “vultures.”
“I expect this pardon will be a very popular one with the media. After all, turkeys are closely related to vultures. I don’t know if I like that line, but there is a little truth to it,” the president said.
The president also took his share of swipes at the current impeachment inquiry, saying that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) had called the turkeys to testify as witnesses.
“It seems the Democrats are accusing me of being too soft on Turkey. At least I’ve actually met them, unlike most of the other witnesses,” said Trump. “Thankfully, Bread and Butter have been specially raised by the Jacksons to remain calm under any condition, which is good, because they’ve been subpoenaed to testify in Adam Schiff’s basement on Thursday.”
Trump compares media to vultures during Turkey pardon. https://t.co/dDDP3hF0oY
— Paul Bois (@PaulBois39) November 26, 2019
According to CNN, the turkey pardon has origins that are difficult to pinpoint, with some rumors of its provenance going all the way back to the Lincoln administration. The tradition did not really become a national sensation until the Kennedy administration, and even then, the whole ceremony did not appear to go mainstream until 1989:
The National Turkey Federation became the official turkey supplier to the first family in 1947 and the formal turkey presentation ceremony has been around since President Harry Truman. Truman was the first to accept a turkey from them — however, he did not spare the bird.
The first documented turkey pardon was given by President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
Pardoning the turkeys didn’t catch on right away. Even though President Gerald Ford pardoned President Richard Nixon, neither one of them decided to officially pardon any turkeys.
Turkey pardoning became the norm in the White House in 1989, when President George H.W. Bush revived the tradition, now a staple of the White House holiday season.
Over the years, animal rights activist organizations have denounced the turkey pardon as unnecessarily cruel in light of the millions of turkeys that die every year during the Holiday season.
“The fact is, over 45 million turkeys are killed for Americans to eat at Thanksgiving each year,” lamented Mercy for Animals. “And like most animals raised and killed for food, turkeys are put through hell at factory farms from the moment they’re born until they’re violently killed. These animals never get to know the love of their mothers or feel the sunlight on their backs or the grass beneath their feet. Instead, they are subjected to mutilations without painkillers and crammed by the thousands into dark, windowless sheds.”