Obama’s first presidential pardon occurred Thursday, and just like everything else the President does, the act has got him up to his neck in controversy. As is tradition at the White House since 1947, the President pardoned a turkey, sparing the bird from the electric knife and the Thanksgiving dinner table. Pardoning the turkey itself is not controversial, but the kind of turkey he pardoned has ruffled some people’s feathers.
President Obama pardoned a black turkey. “Bojangles” was officially granted a full presidential pardon under the North Portico of the White House shortly after ten Thursday morning. Unlike in previous years, there was no Alternate National Turkey at the ceremony, ready to fly into the role of National Turkey in case Bojangles could not uphold the duties of the job. Inside sources say the Obamas may have birdnapped the Alternate Turkey who was MIA for the ceremony, for their Thanksgiving dinner. It may only be speculation that the mystery bird was white.
After declaring the pardon to the turkey, Obama commented that the pardoned Bojangles was free to tap dance another day. As a rule, the pardoned turkey will be the grand marshal of the Thanksgiving Day Parade at Disneyworld. Bojangles is the first black grand marshal, bird or human, in the parade’s history.
In years past, Presidents beginning with George H.W. Bush, have pardoned turkeys, but like the Presidents themselves, the birds have always been white. President Obama’s pardon of a black bird has incited in some claims that he doesn’t respect the white culture, and that he subjected the bird to a litmus test before pardoning him.
Critics on the right have even gone so far as to claim the President’s decision to pardon a black bird was racially motivated. Glenn Beck has called him racist, again. “Not only does he have a deep-seated hatred for white culture, clearly he also hates white meat,” said the opinionated Beck on his FOX News show.
“What’s wrong with pardoning a white turkey? What does he have against whites? Even his dog is black!” incited the heart attack prone anchor. “The whitest thing in the White House is a photograph of Michael Jackson,” said Beck.
Ann Coulter, author of “If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans,” has called the pardon as “affirmative action, for the birds.”
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs insists that race did not play a role in what color turkey the President pardoned. The National Turkey Federation has sent a turkey to the White House every year since 1947, and according to Gibbs, this year the turkey’s color was as much of a surprise to the President as it was to the press. Meanwhile, civil rights groups are applauding the move as equality for all. Several have expressed hope that next year’s turkey might be named Jackson or Robinson.