Unlike Governor Palin, President Bush did not need to be interviewed in front of a turkey slaughter for the media to attack him over turkeys. As part of an annual tradition at the White House, President Bush pardoned two fortunate turkeys, Pecan and Pumpkin, on Wednesday.
Media outlets like MSNBC, ABC, and the Washington Post used the opportunity to make Bush look not only clownish but also useless and heartless. ABC actually titled this year’s turkey pardoning coverage: “White House Turkey Pardoning Scandal? President Forgives Turkey, Then Eats Turkey”
When the reader looks further into the article, Bush did not eat the two turkeys he just “pardoned” but simply ate turkey for Thanksgiving like the rest of the United States did.
Washington Post staff writer Manuel Roig-Franzia among others used the annual event as an opportunity to take a shot at the president(my emphasis throughout:)
President George W. Bush leaves office in 54 days with a sterling legacy.
He has improved living conditions and made innovations.
He has shown real commitment to gender equality.
He has presided over unprecedented growth.
Stay calm. We're not talking about his leadership of the country. We're talking about his stewardship of the National Turkey.
Dubya's approval ratings stink, the economy stinks, being at war stinks, but man, does he have this National Turkey thing down. During eight years in office, Bush has set new standards of quippy, turkey-pardoning glee while saving eight national turkeys -- 280 pounds of potentially mouth-watering deliciousness -- and eight alternates, sometimes called Vice Turkeys.
The turkey-pardoning tradition is generally said to date to President Harry S. Truman, though there is much disagreement about its origins. Clinton did it, Daddy Bush did it, Reagan did it, too. But which of those presidents can claim the vast array of accomplishments in this critical environmental and legal area that W. can?
Fussy historians might be lining up to dis Bush as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history, and, frankly, who knows whether they're dead-on or full of stuffing. Rosenblatt might be diplomatically neutral about presidential turkey pardoning -- "every president handles it differently" -- but we're not afraid to say it: Bush's greatness in the realm of turkey pardoning is undisputed. He sets a high bar for President-elect Barack Obama.
Compare Roig Franzia’s description of the event to Washington Post writer Libby Ingrid Copeland’s November 25, 1998 article titled “Lucky Turkey at The White House.” Copeland’s uses of biblical references were just as ridiculous as Roig Franzia using the event as an opportunity to attack President Bush.
It is important to keep in mind two things. This article was written at the time of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal and President Clinton was about to be impeached by the Republican Congress one month later. (my emphasis throughout:)
A fate hung in the balance at the White House yesterday, and this time it was not Bill Clinton's.
Instead, our president lifted his own repentant hands and offered pardon to one you might call his spiritual brother.
In response, the saved one sank slowly on his tail and let drop a single white feather, as if surrendering to a force far greater than his own ponderous self. It was enough to make even an agnostic weepy.
He was 45 pounds of white-ruffled, gizzarded glory -- photogenic and a touch graceful in his turkeyish way. He was a Minnesotan named Jerry. But in honor of the presidential reprieve that was granted shortly before 1 p.m. -- fraught, perhaps, with certain biblical connotations -- we might call him Isaac.
This is the season of second chances.
Yesterday, for the 51st year in a row, a token turkey was allowed to live. The tradition has been going on since the Truman administration, thanks to the largess of the National Turkey Federation. Over the decades this yearly pardon has taken on ritualistic import -- a sort of parable of the prodigal turkey.
But this year the act had special significance. O President, in the 23 weeks since this year's turkey was born -- a darling even as a tiny poult, fresh and downy from the egg -- we thought for quite some time that your metaphorical goose was cooked.
Accuse us of reading too much into the presidential demeanor, but it seemed that yesterday Clinton sensed this parallel -- even felt a comradeship with the lucky bird. Witness Clinton's fatherly pats and his proud words. He spoke of the turkey's future life on the Kidwell Farm in Herndon, where Jerry might frolic "among friends -- not peas and sweet potatoes."
Clinton placed a sure hand on the turkey's back and smiled. But Jerry seemed largely indifferent to the presidential caress. If the angel of mercy hovered above his caruncle, he did not notice it. Borrowing a page from the president, the turkey took the whole thing in stride, as if to say, "Of course I'm going to survive -- I always do."
Part of being President of the United States is being part of traditional amusing photo ops. Presidents from both parties have participated in this type of fare, but depending on the political party in the White House, the mainstream media will frame the event accordingly.