(Some) Jokes Aside
November 20, 2007
Though we don’t run as much political coverage around here as we used to, this in no way means that we’ve stopped watching the politicosphere. If anything, the absence of political discourse on the Salad is a reflection of the seriousness with which we view the current political moment. For this is an era of untold, expanded presidential power. Or is that vice-presidential power? This summer, The Washington Post printed a brilliant four-part series about the vice-President’s role in expanding the reach of the presidency, or the “unitary executive theory” (one theory that has no place in Dash’s roulette wheel). But if the power’s of the presidency have expanded, there is still one arena in which the president’s power is not all-told, in which his reach is thankfully limited: the turkey pardon.
Yes, America’s favorite turkeys, May and Flower, will be flown to Orlando, Florida–and first class at that!–; yes, there they will go to Disney World and serve as marshals of the Thanksgiving day parade; yes, these things are all true. But none of this changes the fact that the president’s pardon does not hold to your turkey. No matter this president’s imperial ambitions, Americans will not be forced into eating salad for their Thanksgiving dinners.
But this show pardon does engender a few thoughts:
1) What crimes did these turkeys commit? Were they tried, or were they held as illegal combatants? Were they ever accused, or is this whole thing some sort of allegory for The Trial with May standing in for Josef K?
2) Is there a better example of the breakdown between the private and the public than that of our national turkey? The presidential pardon dates to Truman, however it is based on the myth that lil’ Tad Lincoln demanded his father show mercy on the family bird in 1863. Actually, the myth link shows that the Truman origin story is also legend, that the first recorded, documentable instance of a turkey being pardoned (with the word pardon used) only took place under President George H.W. Bush in 1989! It can be said that this presidential pardon is little more than a family tradition (Lincoln, Kennedy, Truman? Certainly Bush[s]) presented as national to the American public. Thankfully, recent events have made the turkey pardon more democratic: since 2003, Americans can vote on the birds’ names.