A Turkey from Tennessee

Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Malia Obama, Sasha Obama, Elizabeth Lauten

I suppose President Obama will let another turkey off the hook this holiday season. He isn’t likely to respond to Elizabeth Lauten’s rude rant against his daughters. He won’t need to. Responses from outraged Americans are pouring in.

The communications aide to Tennessee Republican Congressman Stephen Fincher posted a scathing Facebook attack against Malia and Sasha, urging them to show “a little class” despite the bad example they get from their parents.

What got Ms. Lauten (photo inset) going was the bored expression on the girls’ faces as they watched their dad pardon a Thanksgiving turkey (photo above).

Yes, a turkey.

For some reason that I cannot fathom, the President of the United States is obliged to pardon two turkeys every Thanksgiving.

Wikipedia credits President George H. W. Bush with starting the tradition back in 1989. Apparently, it’s a publicity stunt dreamed up by hotshots at the National Turkey Federation and the Poultry and Egg National Board.

According to Wikipedia:

The presentation of a turkey to the President each year began in 1947 under President Harry Truman, and many sources erroneously attribute the origin of the turkey pardon to Truman. However, the Truman Library says that no documents, speeches, newspaper clippings, photographs or other contemporary records are known to exist that specify that he ever “pardoned” a turkey; there are records that he publicly admitted to eating at least some of them.

Pardoning a turkey has to be one of the President’s most absurd official functions. And I can understand why 16-year-old Malia and 13-year-old Sasha would roll their eyes in embarrassed disbelief. But evidently, turkey pardons are more august occasions in Tennessee than they are in Washington DC.

Ms. Lauten was not amused. Her Facebook post read in part:

Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play. Then again your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department. Nevertheless, stretch yourself. Rise to the occasion. Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don’t make faces during televised public events.

Even from a Tennessee Republican, the post was shocking. Social media lit up with demands for Lauten’s firing. And the mainstream media is all over the story.

Despite an abject apology on Facebook, Ms. Lauten has had to resign.

Now, if we can only get rid of the annual turkey pardoning farce.

Click for the story.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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