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:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

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