The History of the Presidential Turkey Pardon





Nothing a president does lends itself more easily to a punch line – deliberate or inadvertent - than the annual pardon of a Thanksgiving turkey.

"I think it's kind of funny, and it's an annual ritual," said President Clinton at his first turkey pardon ceremony in 1993.

He said the pardon was easy for him "because I've been around turkeys all my life." Upon realizing the double meaning of his statement, Mr. Clinton was quick to add: "I didn't mean it like that."

At the turkey pardon in 2001, President George W. Bush observed that "our guest of honor looks a little nervous. Nobody's told him yet that I'm going to give him a pardon."



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