In carrying out the ritual of formally pardoning two Thanksgiving turkeys (no, not McConnell and Boehner), the President remarked:
They say that life is all about second chances. And this November, I could not agree more. So in the spirit of the season, I have one more gift to give, and it goes to a pair of turkeys named Cobbler and Gobbler.
Casting himself as the fortunate recipient of a “second chance” nicely underplays his electoral triumph. And the delicate touch of “one more gift to give” is almost awe-inspiring; Romney never even felt the stiletto going in.
It’s a delight to be led by someone who knows the uses of subtlety.
Footnote The ritual itself is charming in its origin: one of Lincoln’s sons formed an attachment to a turkey the First Family had been given to eat on Thanksgiving, and Lincoln – who made very active use of his real pardon powers in sparing soldiers sentenced to death for sleeping on watch or desertion – ceremoniously “pardoned” the bird.
Literally, continuing the tradition is rather absurd; the President doesn’t intend to encourage vegetarianism. But Lincoln is worth commemorating, even in his lighter moments, and the idea that mercy is part of the President’s duties is worth acting out annually.
Still, the re-enactment would have more weight if, as in Lincoln’s own case, mercy toward the birds were accompanied by the release of some of the nearly 200,000 human beings held behind bars and subject to Presidential clemency.