By Noah Marks
The minor political crisis that unfolded over the weekend, fallout from the Presidential pardon of “Mac” and “Cheese” and Sasha and Malia’s apparent boredom, has claimed at least one person’s job. The President, puzzled by the tradition, echoed his recent immigration executive order by claiming that the act is “fully within” his “legal authority” to “spare the lives of two turkeys . . . from a terrible and delicious fate.”
Presidential turkey pardons apocryphally date to Harry Truman, but the first confirmed, formal(ish) pardon took place in 1989 by George H.W. Bush. In fact, only in recent years (since George W. Bush) has it become custom for the President to pardon both turkeys. This year, President Obama ignored requests from PETA, who called on Sasha and Malia to urge their father to end the tradition and have a vegan Thanksgiving.
At the risk of over-analyzing and ruining one of the few light moments in a President’s life, we should take Thanksgiving and the turkey “pardon” as an opportunity to evaluate the ever-diminishing role of the real pardon. Unlike the photogenic turkeys, our world-leading incarcerated population is invisible, disenfranchised, and all too easily ignored. [Read more…] about Real Pardons for Real People