Biden talks turkey — then pardons them


Joe Biden spent his 81st birthday the only way a president would want to, really: pardoning turkeys and telling jokes.

“By the way, it’s my birthday today. I just want you to know, it’s difficult turning 60,” Biden said Monday at the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon.

He chuckled at his own joke. The crowd gobbled it up. But the turkeys didn’t laugh.

Which is odd, because they should have been in a good mood. After all, they were the lucky ones this year, spared from a fate that involved basting and roasting, or a deep fryer, or being lined with smaller birds and consumed alongside a heap of stuffing.

This year’s presidentially spared birds hail from Minnesota — a perhaps telling biographical tidbit, as it’s not quite a swing state but could be one if Biden truly plummets in the polls. In classic Biden fashion, however, there was a Pennsylvania connection, too. This year’s flock of turkeys were named Liberty and Bell. Get it?

“These birds have a new appreciation of the words, let freedom ring,” Biden said, speaking from the White House Rose Garden.

Monday’s annual event marked the 76th anniversary of the White House turkey pardon, which dates back to 1947, when the National Turkey Federation first presented the national Thanksgiving Turkey to President Harry Truman. Biden, in another age reference, quipped that he was not present at Truman’s event. But he was alive; he was a mere 5 years old at the time — old enough, for certain, to eat turkey.

While the Thanksgiving bird used to be for the first family’s consumption, that is no longer the case. Beginning in the late 1980s, the event evolved into an oftentimes funny ceremony (minus the occasional snap at the pardoner’s hand) in which the turkeys are given a second chance at life. Liberty and Bell will make the trek back to live out their lives at the University of Minnesota.

There were a few jokes throughout Biden’s short ceremony on Monday. But let’s just say it was, like the cooked variety, relatively dry.

But like all Thanksgiving festivities, there was also some awkwardness around the table. Biden bungled one joke referencing the challenging nature of getting a ticket to Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour or Taylor Swift’s Eras concert — appearing to confuse Swift with Britney Spears.

“Just to get here, Liberty and Bell had to beat some tough odds and competition. They had to work hard to show patience and be willing to travel over 1,000 miles,” Biden said. “You could say even it’s harder than getting a ticket to the Renaissance tour or, or, for Britney’s tour. She’s down in — it’s kind of warm in Brazil right now.”

Oops, he did it again. Gobble gobble.

This post was originally published on Politico

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