The turkey . . . is a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America.
– Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Sarah Bache
It was the juxtaposition that instantly drew the observer’s attention- pictures of President-elect Biden in Delaware on November 24, standing with future members of his administration, a group that included many of the most distinguished people in the United States who have served in government in the past, and are prepared to offer their service yet again, and the trump in the Rose Garden with two other turkeys. To see the turkeys in the Rose Garden, the one standing behind a podium holding a microphone, and the other two, Corn and Cob, lying on their stomachs hoping for pardons, on the same day and almost the same time as the President-elect was introducing distinguished members of his new administration, could only be described as a coincidence. The difference between the two groups was obvious. The main difference between the three turkeys in the Rose Garden is the means of communication used by them. Corn and Cob communicate by gobbling whereas the trump communicates by tweeting.
Two of the turkeys in the Rose Garden almost certainly were slightly worried knowing that, absent a pardon, they would almost certainly soon find themselves lying in repose in someone’s oven from which they would be moved to the dining room table and an inglorious end. The other turkey had a similar concern although absent a pardon his fate would not be known until many months after January 20. As he well knew, the absence of a pardon might mean a jail cell rather than an oven.
To the extent the turkeys had an awareness of the control the trump had over their futures, they may have believed that the future of one of them was secure-for good reason. They had probably been told of the three earlier ceremonies that had taken place during the trump administration in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday during which one of the participants was always pardoned. Furthermore, in anticipation of the exciting event, the turkeys’ owner had almost certainly told them of some of the pardons the trump had given during the period the power to pardon belonged to him. Their owner would have told them about the pardon given former Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio who was convicted of “immigrant roundups” while serving as sheriff. He would have told them of the pardon given vice-president Pence’s former chief of staff who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. He would have told them of the pardon given Roger Stone, a long-time friend of the trump who was convicted on charges of witness tampering, obstructing an official proceeding and five counts of making false statements in an investigation of the trump campaign. And those names were just a just a smattering of those who had been pardoned by the trump, the owner would have explained to them.
Considering all those pardons, the turkeys’ owner would almost surely have told them that compared with the seriousness of the crimes committed by the beneficiaries of those presidential pardons, the lives the turkeys had led had been exemplary. The owner would have told them that if neither of them was pardoned the fate that awaited them could only be attributed to an accident of birth and that they should not feel that their fate was their fault. The fact that a pardon for them was even being considered was a stroke of luck for which few other turkeys could ever hope. With those reassurances, Cobb and Corn probably felt reasonably secure in the knowledge that if the trump had found it in his heart to pardon, among others, those people described above, the two of them, whose only fault was being hatched, would be similarly treated.
As the ceremony concluded, and in a singularly touching moment, the trump, accompanied by his wife, Melania, went to the table that was covered with flowers and miniature pumpkins on which Corn was resting. Solemnly raising his right hand the trump said: “Oh, so lucky. That is a lucky bird. Corn, I hereby grant you a full pardon. Thank you Corn.” How Cobb reacted upon hearing those words is not known.
While pardoning Corn, the trump was almost certainly wondering whether there was any chance that following the inauguration of President-elect Biden, President Biden would show him the same compassion that he, as president had on four different occasions bestowed on a turkey, as well as on several criminals whose conduct had been less exemplary than the lives of the pardoned turkeys. In the case of the trump only time will tell whether he is prosecuted or pardoned for the multitude of offenses for which he could properly be charged once he leaves the protective shell provided by the White House. He can rest assured that he will not be the only person eagerly waiting to get the answer to that question.