2018 Sees Another Turkey Pardon

Sometimes Fall and its attendant holidays seem sad. We have to see people we may not really care to see, we miss those who are no longer with us, and everyone just seems sort of on edge when it comes to schedules, presents, and how to decorate. Traditional? Modern? A lot? Not at all? But one thing I count on to help center me is the Annual White House Turkey Pardon, courtesy of Abraham Lincoln and his son, Tad.[1]

I have explained, probably ad nauseum, about how Tad begged his father to “pardon” the turkey which was destined for the Lincoln table in the same way his dad pardoned soldiers for minor military infractions. Lincoln went along with the idea and Mary served chicken that year.

Fast-forward to 1987, when President Reagan held the office of President. Reagan was being asked to pardon Oliver North and John Poindexter—a much more serious pardoning than those for turkeys. The White House bird, ‘Charlie,’ was already headed for a petting zoo, but after Sam Donaldson of ABC News pressed Reagan on whether he’d pardon North and Poindexter, Reagan responded, ‘If they’d given me a different answer on Charlie and his future, I would have pardoned him.'”[2]

Two years later President George H. W. Bush continued the tradition we know today as the Turkey pardon. This year the turkeys, “Peas” and “Carrots,” come from South Dakota. This is a first for that state, as there is an intense fight to have one’s pair of turkeys chosen for the honor of being pardoned. The names in modern times are always some type of pun. The pair I always remember was “Tater” and “Tots,” from the Obama years.

One completely irrelevant but neat thing about this years’ birds is that they are staying at the Willard, now known as the Willard InterContinental. One may imagine them arriving in Washington, tired and dusty from their long journey, and trying to get a room. As the concierge looks at the signatures he exclaims, “Peas and Carrots! Well, why didn’t you say so? We can give you a much better room, sirs, and welcome to Washington!”

Willard’s decorated for Christmas

This year’s pardon will take place on November 20. Just as soon as it is over, it will probably be available on YouTube just in case you missed it. And no . . . this is not “Fake News.”

Have a lovely Thanksgiving, from all of us here at ECW.

Turkey, unpardoned.



[2]Domenico Montanaro, NPR Politics Podcast, Nov. 19, 2018.

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