In a surprise move, President Obama has cancelled this year’s Thanksgiving turkey pardon. Given the polarized political environment, it didn’t make sense to conduct the traditional ceremony.
As one White House insider put it: "We didn’t want to give the wrong message. With the Republicans in the ascendency, pardoning anyone or anything could smack of being soft on crime."
Instead, President Obama is expected to use the traditional turkey pardoning ceremony as an opportunity to spell out his new "get tough" approach to all forms of criminal activity.
"We don’t believe in taking it easy on criminals whether they are feathered or not," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. "In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the president decides to crack down on turkey crime in all its forms."
Asked to be more specific, Mr. Gibbs pointed to a graph which showed a definite spike in turkey crime over the last few years.
"We’ve been monitoring the situation closely," said Mr. Gibbs. "And the number of cases of Americans getting sick from salmonella poisoning is definitely on the rise. And chief among those responsible for that health threat are turkeys."
The Obama Administration is apparently also sensitive to past criminal activities by turkeys pardoned by The White House.
"While it is true that last year the president pardoned a turkey," said Mr. Gibbs. "He felt that he had no choice but to continue the pardoning policies already implemented by the Bush Administration."
This year, though, President Obama is determined to stake out his own policy position vis-a-vis turkey pardoning.
"Undercooked turkeys are potentially fatal but live turkeys are even more dangerous," said Mr. Gibbs. "If they manage to sneak into your home, they can spread bacteria without you even knowing it."
The White House is stressing the fact that last year’s pardoned bird did no damage but that Pecan, the last turkey pardoned by President Bush, is still at large. According to authorities, the bird is not a flight risk although it can flap its wings and travel at speeds of upwards of three miles an hour.
The White House hopes to capture the wayward bird soon although the president has apparently not yet decided if it will be returned to captivity or will instead serve as this year’s Thanksgiving dinner at Guantanamo Bay.
Whatever course of action the president ultimately chooses, it looks like Joe Biden has already decided to take matters into his own hands. The vice president was reportedly last seen on Air Force Two heading east to Istanbul declaring that, unlike the Bush Administration, "this White House has no intention of pardoning Turkey."