Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

A Turkey By Any Other Description

A Turkey By Any Other Description— Is Still the Governor of Alaska


by Walter Brasch

President Bush, as has every president since his father began the practice in 1989, annually pardons a Thanksgiving turkey.

Amid hundreds of spectators, most of them members of the media, the president makes a few cute comments, issues a pardon for the turkey and a "runner-up" (in case the Main Bird can't fulfill all the duties), and then sends the turkeys off to a petting zoo or ranch, where they live about a year. Why they live only a year is because domestic turkeys are bred to become so pleasingly plump so quickly that disease takes over their bodies if not slaughtered. A domestic turkey has a 26 week life span; wild turkeys, if not killed by natural predators, have a 12 year life span.

Why domestic turkeys have to be "pardoned" is another matter. The birds did nothing wrong, nothing illegal. All they did was to be born and be turkeys. But, the entire ceremony is a good PhotoOp for the president, while encouraging the sale of turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. Americans will eat about 46 million turkeys this Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation.

The Federation first gave Harry Truman a bird in 1947. While most media declare that was the beginning of the pardons, there's no evidence that Truman did anything other than eat turkey for Thanksgiving. In 1963, days before he was murdered, John F. Kennedy chose to spare the life of the turkey he was presented, but did not grab the salivating media to watch him "pardon" a turkey. The Federation gives each president a live turkey and two dressed ones.

And now comes a turkey disguised as a human. While most turkeys might be offended at the comparison, "turkey" might be the best way to describe Gov. Sarah Palin.

The former Republican VP nominee, at home in Wasilla, Alaska, went to the Triple-D farm, Thursday, accompanied by a willing press corps. There, she declared, apparently in all sincerity and unaware of the great irony, "I, Governor Sarah Palin, friend to all creatures great and small." Yes, the same Sarah Palin who recently cooked moose chili while being interviewed on TV, who regularly kills animals, who approves the killing of wolf pups in their dens, who sees nothing wrong with violating every "fair chase" rule of hunting by encouraging aerial hunting. That Sarah Palin.

But, her "pardon" actually gets even more outrageous. She said she was pardoning the turkey because it was almost the national bird, that "it is not at all clear that this turkey even had a trial, let alone a fair trial by a jury of his or her peers," and that Alaska doesn't have a death penalty. So far, except for her squeaky unmodulated voice and lack of complete sentences, combined with the chortle her line about "friend of all creatures" must have provoked, no harm no foul.

And then she walked outside the pen into the fresh air and sunlight. While a KTUU-TV reporter interviewed her about returning to Alaska, behind the governor, and clearly visible to the camera, a worker was feeding turkeys into a metal funnel grinder, and grinning at the TV camera. The videographer told Palin what was happening behind her shoulder; her response was "No worries," as she continued the three-minute interview, upstaged the entire time by the worker and the slaughter.

During the interview, she explained she went to the Triple-D farm to help promote local business, and because, "You need a little bit of levity in this job." Near the end of the interview, she acknowledged she was a controversial figure, and threw out an off-hand comment about the work being done behind her: "Certainly we'll probably invite criticism for even doing this too but at least this was fun." It certainly wasn't "fun" for the turkeys.

Although most Americans have no problem with eating meat, the scene that Sarah Palin willingly became a part showed not just ineptness but insensitivity.

"The word 'turkey,'" said Sarah Palin, is "considered a term of endearment in casual conversation." There is no way that referring to Sarah Palin as a turkey can be misconstrued to be a "term of endearment."

*************

[Dr. Brasch is the author of the recently-published Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush, available at amazon.com, bn.com, and numerous independent and chain stores. He is professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University. You may contact him through his website, www.walterbrasch.com or by e-mail at brasch@bloomu.edu]

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 


Philip Temple: Hang On A Minute, Mate
Peter Dunne quietly omits some salient facts when arguing for retention of MMP’s coat-tailing provision that allows a party to add list seats if it wins one electorate and achieves more than 1% or so of the party vote... More>>


Cheap Grace And Climate Change: Australia And COP26

It was not for everybody, but the shock advertising tactics of the Australian comedian Dan Ilic made an appropriate point. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a famed coal hugger, has vacillated about whether to even go to the climate conference in Glasgow. Having himself turned the country’s prime ministerial office into an extended advertising agency, Ilic was speaking his language... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Funeral Rites For COVID Zero
It was such a noble public health dream, even if rather hazy to begin with. Run down SARS-CoV-2. Suppress it. Crush it. Or just “flatten the curve”, which could have meant versions of all the above. This created a climate of numerical sensitivity: a few case infections here, a few cases there, would warrant immediate, sharp lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, the closure of all non-vital service outlets... More>>


Dunne Speaks: Labour's High Water Mark
If I were still a member of the Labour Party I would be feeling a little concerned after this week’s Colmar Brunton public opinion poll. Not because the poll suggested Labour is going to lose office any time soon – it did not – nor because it showed other parties doing better – they are not... More>>



Our Man In Washington: Morrison’s Tour Of Deception

It was startling and even shocking. Away from the thrust and cut of domestic politics, not to mention noisy discord within his government’s ranks, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison could breathe a sign of relief. Perhaps no one would notice in Washington that Australia remains prehistoric in approaching climate change relative to its counterparts... More>>



Binoy Kampmark: Melbourne Quake: Shaken, Not Stirred

It began just after a news interview. Time: a quarter past nine. Morning of September 22, and yet to take a sip from the brewed Turkish coffee, its light thin surface foam inviting. The Australian city of Melbourne in its sixth lockdown, its residents fatigued and ravaged by regulations. Rising COVID-19 numbers, seemingly inexorable... More>>