It’s an annual ceremony, a lighthearted moment for presidents and governors. But nowadays, harsh realities can and do intrude.
Gov. Kim Reynolds pardoned a pair of turkeys on Tuesday. It’s an event that occurs every year before Thanksgiving in state capitals and in Washington, D.C.
On Monday, President Joe Biden pardoned two birds named “Chocolate” and “Chip” on the South Lawn of the White House and included an unnecessary reference to election controversies.
“The votes are in, they’ve been counted and verified, no ballot stuffing, no fowl play,” Biden said. “The only red wave this season is going to be if German shepherd Commander knocks over the cranberry sauce.”
Gov. Reynolds pardoned turkeys named “Stars” and “Stripes,” which were raised by the Slinger family on their farm near Ellsworth, but she did so remotely.
“Iowa’s turkey pardoning event is something that I look forward to every year,” she said in a two-minute video recorded at her desk. “But with the statewide order currently in place to protect flocks from the threat of avian influenza, we’re honoring the tradition a little bit differently this year.”
It was a symbolic move to honor the fact that the avian flu is once again a threat to Iowa’s poultry industry. All live bird shows are on hold because of reports of the bird flu in multiple locations in the state.
As Reynolds noted, turkeys are big business in Iowa. Our farmers raise 12 million of them annually, ranking us seventh in the nation. It provides jobs for 38,000 people and has a $10.6 billion economic impact.
That’s why the politician and the poultry were not in the same place on Tuesday. Even fun moments like this sometimes include a reminder of the challenges we face every day.
It’s become an unwelcome part of our world in the last three years.