The National Thanksgiving Turkey ceremony at the White House is a great thing, as it not only gives the nation pause in order to be thankful for so many things, but it also brings national attention to the National Turkey Federation (NTF) and the greater turkey industry.
Earning the honor of being this year’s NTF chairman was Jeff Sveen, and along with that honor comes the opportunity to present the president of the United States with the National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate. In this case, the turkeys were named Peas and Carrots, and were raised near Huron, South Dakota by Ruben Waldner under Sveen’s supervision.
While I didn’t get the chance to see the ceremony in person, I did see videos of it. The ceremony was a nice one, but it could have easily been better.
How? By removing all partisan politics from it.
Several years back Foster Farms’ Ira Brill, who refers to himself as the “unofficial, self-appointed presidential turkey historian,” made this comment: “Pardoning a turkey is a lot easier than dealing with foreign policy or economic policy, but I think the other thing about Thanksgiving is that it is one of the few non-partisan things that is left, and whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, everybody sits down and celebrates Thanksgiving. It’s really an opportunity for the president to connect with the entire nation, and those types of situations are few and far between.”
I’m sure many who watched the ceremony will say that this year’s observance didn’t entirely meet Brill’s description.
U.S. President Donald Trump did take a moment at the ceremony to congratulate South Dakota governor-elect, Kristi Noem, a Republican who is finishing out her current term in Congress. Since the turkeys came from South Dakota, this seemed like an appropriate thing to do. We can only hope that had her opponent, Democrat Billie Sutton, won the recent election, he would have received the same deserved recognition had he been in attendance.
Trump, at another point during the observance, explained the process in which Peas won the vote over Carrots to be the official National Thanksgiving Turkey, following up by saying, “This was a fair election.” Was this comment made in reference to an earlier election he deemed unfair? If so, why bring it up at a time designated to be thankful for all things that are good?
He also took a dig at the opposing party and the court system.
“Even though Peas and Carrots have received a presidential pardon, I have warned them that House Democrats are likely to issue them both subpoenas,” Trump said.
“Nonetheless, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I will be issuing both Peas and Carrots a presidential pardon. Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that your pardons won’t be enjoined by the Ninth Circuit.”
Maybe these comments were meant to be funny, but those attempts at humor came at the expense of others. While it may be possible that others before Trump also may have used the event to make political statements, two wrongs don't make a right.
Thanksgiving, to me, should be a time to put aside partisanship and instead, like Brill indicated, be united in expressing thanks for so many blessings, including the great work of the NTF and the greater turkey industry.