Soon, President Obama Will Pardon a Thanksgiving Turkey. Then, It Will Die.

Barack Obama and his daughters participate in a turkey pardoning ceremony in 2012. Barack Obama and his daughters participate in a turkey pardoning ceremony in 2012. J. Scott Applewhite/AP file photo

2012 was a fine year for Cobbler, the turkey. Cobbler, who was raised in Rockingham County, Virginia, was just 19 weeks old when he was named the National Thanksgiving Turkey, earning himself a pardon from the president of the United States on November 21, 2012.

But Cobbler didn't last long. Just months after the passing of his turkey alternate, Gobbler (all pardoned turkeys have an alternate), Cobbler waseuthanized on Aug. 22, 2013. Like every other turkey pardoned by President Obama, Cobbler and Gobbler are no longer among the living. Only one turkey pardoned by the president has lived to see a second Thanksgiving.

Next week, on the day before Thanksgiving, the president will again pardon a National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate, this time from Minnesota. And, if history is precedent, those turkeys have two years left at best. Here the Minneapolis Star Tribune has a look at some possible turkeys that are gonna die soon.

So what's the deal? Is Obama casting death spells on these poor birds? Well, no. At least if his predecessor's luck with turkeys is any guide.

John Stossel wrote about George W. Bush's bad luck with Thanksgiving turkeys for ABC, after Bush made the claim that his two pardoned turkeys would "live out their days" in comfort and care. Stossel did the journalistic heavy-lifting and went to the turkey farm where Bush sent his pardoned turkeys. The Virginia farmer told Stossel that "we usually just find 'em and they're dead."

Like Obama's turkeys, the turkeys pardoned by his predecessors tended to last only a few months.

So, what's wrong with our political turkey class?

A 2010 report for the Humane Society detailed the burdens that turkey eugenics have wrought on the birds. Simply put, they are not bred for living, but for eating.

The report's section on turkey obesity says that "[f]arming interests have transformed Ben Franklin's tree-perching 'Bird of Courage' into a flightless gargantua bred to grow so fast that today's commercially raised turkeys," according to a previous study cited in the report, " 'are on the verge of structural collapse.' " The added weight causes degenerative hip failure and other joint deformities.

In fact, they are so fat that without human intervention, the domesticated turkey would go extinct. That's because turkeys "have been bred for such heavy body weight that they are physically incapable of mating, necessitating artificial insemination via tube or syringe."

And like overweight humans, these obese turkeys suffer and die from heart disease. "Sudden death associated with acute heart failure and perirenal hemorrhage (bleeding around the kidneys) is a significant cause of mortality for rapidly growing turkey toms," the report states.

Flightless gargantua. No. Delicious flightless gargantua.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.