President Obama officially pardoned Cheese, of the turkey duo Mac and Cheese, on Wednesday to kick off the Thanksgiving holiday.
It was a lighthearted event amid weeks of serious news from around the globe and the country, and Mr. Obama couldn’t resist ribbing Republicans who are furious about his recent move to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportationwith his executive authority.
“I’m here to announce what I’m sure will be the most talked-about executive action this month,” he said. “Today I am taking an action fully within my legal authority, the same kind of action taken by Democrats and Republican presidents before me, to spare the lives of two turkeys, Mac and Cheese, from a terrible and delicious fate.”
“They’ll get to live out the rest of their days respectively at a Virginia estate with 10,000 acres of roaming space,” he added. “I know some will call this amnesty, but don’t worry there’s plenty of turkey to go around.”
Cheese won the honor of being pardoned after a White House competition that invited the public to weigh in on Twitter.
Mac, a White House blog post said, is a 47 lb., 33-inch tall male turkey born July 7. His strut style is “feather-shaker,” while his gobble is described as, “rhythmic, melodious, with a touch of bluegrass.” He boasts a wingspan of 4 feet.
His competition, Cheese, shares his birthday, but the similarities end there. Cheese is more of a “grand champion” strutter, the White House says, and his gobble is, “loud, romantic, with a country ring to it.” He clocks in at 49 lbs. and 36 inches tall with an impressive wingspan of 4.5 feet.
They both hail from Cooper Farms in Oakwood, Ohio.
“Lets face it, if you’re a turkey, and you’re named after a side dish, your chances of escaping thanksgiving dinner are pretty low so these guys are well ahead of the curve. They really beat the odds,” the president joked.
He also defended the annual tradition after a recent Washington Post article suggested the pardon was out of step with the usual solemnity of a president’s duties.
“It is a little puzzling that I do this every year but I will say that I enjoy it, because with all the tough stuff that swirls around in this office, it’s nice once in a while just to say Happy Thanksgiving, and this is a great excuse to do it,” the president said. “Tomorrow’s a special moment when we give thanks for the people we love and where we’re mindful of the incredible blessings that we have received.”
He was accompanied by his daughters, Sasha and Malia, both of whom declined to pet the turkey. Mr. Obama gave it a ginger pat before noting that turkeys don’t have the most attractive heads.