Trump turkey pardon
Credit: CSPAN Screen shot

It’s hard for me to get worked up one way or the other about the silly American tradition of having the president of the United States pardon some turkeys a few days before Thanksgiving. It’s a pretty hard thing to screw up as long as you don’t inject politics into the ceremony. Unfortunately, President Trump turned what should have been a light and unifying moment into another opportunity to be an unpardonable jerk.

I only heard part of the event because it was playing on my car radio when I went to the store to get some urgently needed dog food. As a result, I missed the segment where Trump joked about recounts. Here’s what he said about “Peas” and “Carrots,” the two lucky turkeys.

Joined by first lady Melania, Trump said although both turkeys were being pardoned, Peas was declared the winner of a White House poll that asked Americans to pick which turkey should be pardoned. Trump deemed the contest a “fair and open election.”

“Unfortunately, Carrots refused to concede and demanded a recount, and we’re still fighting with Carrots,” he said. “I will tell you we’ve come to a conclusion. Carrots, I’m sorry to tell you the result did not change.”

That would probably have been a permissible joke, despite the raw feelings about how the elections in Georgia and Florida were conducted. But then he went on to make a purely partisan attack:

After their time in the spotlight, the president said Peas and Carrots will live out their days at the nearby Virginia Tech’s “Gobbler’s Rest.” They join last year’s birds, Drumstick and Wishbone, who both received a pardon.

However, Trump said the turkeys’ retirement “won’t be entirely a rest.”

“Even though Peas and Carrots have received a presidential pardon, I have warned them that House Democrats are likely to issue them both subpoenas,” he said.

After that, Trump took a shot at the left-leaning Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The irritating thing about this for me was that I was relieved when the radio came on with Trump speaking and I realized that he wasn’t spewing a bunch of lies or leveling groundless attacks and spurious conspiracy theories. I thought, “Here’s an opportunity for him to just have fun and act normal, and maybe he can actually pull something like this off without completely failing at his job.”

And he seemed to be getting the job done adequately, reading from his cue cards. It allowed me to relax for just a moment.

And then it came as surely as sunrise. He made it into just one more opportunity to attack our institutions, including the integrity of our elections, our Congress, our law enforcement agencies, and our courts.

He will never change, and he will never be an acceptable president.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at