US President Barack Obama performed his seasonal role of pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey Wednesday, joking it was one duty he could perform without approval of an obstructive Congress.
Obama reprieved a 45-pound (20-kilogram) turkey called Libertyand an understudy named Peace from the butcher’s knife and the birds will gobble out their golden years on George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia.
“Some of you may know that recently I have been taking a series of executive actions that don’t require congressional approval,” Obama said.
“Here’s another one. We can’t wait to pardon these turkeys,” he said using the catchphrase he uses to bypass his Republican foes and sign job creating measures into law.
“Otherwise they would end up next to the mashed potatoes and stuffing.”
“The turkey’s name is Liberty, and along with his understudy named Peace he has the distinction of being the luckiest bird on the face of the earth. Right now, he’s probably one of the most confused.”
Obama quipped that the birds, pardoned under the North Portico of the White House, had undergone media training to prepare for their big day in the media spotlight.
On a serious note, he urged US citizens to give thanks for their blessings on the famed American holiday on Thursday, and to remember those who are less well off.
“Let’s appreciate those who hold a special place in our lives and make sure that they know it,” said Obama, flanked by daughters Malia, 13, and Sasha, 10.
The tradition of granting a presidential pardon for turkeys only dates back to president George Bush in 1989, but Thanksgiving was first celebrated by pilgrims who fled religious persecution in England.