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Le Figaro, France

After the Election,
a Moment of Thanks …
for Two Turkeys


By Laure Mandeville

Translated By Laura Napoli

27 November 2012

Edited by Peter L. McGuire


France - Le Figaro - Original Article (French)

It was a beautiful day on Wednesday in the White House’s Rose Garden, when Barack Obama, accompanied by his two daughters, left the Oval Office to perform a well-oiled ritual: “pardoning” two turkeys, on the eve of the national Thanksgiving holiday, during which each year Americans eat nearly 45 million birds accompanied by mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. Has the new cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza arrived? Or is this simply a good-natured ceremony? In any case, the president was in good spirits, as if decompressing after the formidable pressure of the all-too-recent election and his voyage in Asia, which finished just 12 hours earlier. “They say that life is all about second chances. And this November, I could not agree more,” he began.

He didn’t hesitate to borrow vocabulary from the election to describe the circumstances in which the two enormous white turkeys, “Cobbler” and “Gobbler,” found themselves. The turkeys, which never stopped ruffling their feathers, escaped the sad fate of their brothers. Thanks to an Internet vote, the two birds, originally from a Virginia farm, were designated to receive a pardon from the president-elect, explained the Head of State. Their owner, greeted by Obama, was at their sides on this historic day, along with several guests and journalists with cameras constantly clicking away. “The American people have spoken, and these birds are moving forward,” explained a smiling Obama. At that precise moment, Cobbler, who had received the majority of the votes, making Gobbler his runner-up, gobbled aloud. The president struggled to keep from laughing. The victory of the two birds was predicted by Nate Silver (the statistician who predicted the actual election), he joked. Standing at his side, his daughters seemed to stifle a grin. But Barack didn’t pay them any attention. In this day of thanksgiving, which has its roots in the first years of colonization of the American territory, when the Europeans set aside a day to thank God for the abundance of food and the help given them by the Indians, the president discussed the chance to live in America, the most “wonderful” country in the world. But he also evoked populations affected by Hurricane Sandy, struggling to rebuild their communities in the Northeast, not to mention the inevitable tribute to troops deployed overseas.

Then came the moment of “pardon.” Barack Obama, flanked by his slightly nervous daughters, approached Cobbler and made a cross sign to symbolize grace. Malia, 17 years old, obstinately refused to pet the turkey, but Sasha, 11 years old, was tempted. The ceremony ended in good spirits, where the guests were allowed to shake the president’s hand and greet his daughters. Cobbler and Gobbler, 19 kilos each, will spend happy days in the gardens of Mount Vernon, property of the first president of the United States, George Washington, where they are preceded by turkeys miraculously pardoned in prior years. The tradition has occurred since the Kennedy era. The only shadow of the day was the protest of PETA, an animal rights group, which asked the president not to follow this “outdated” tradition that symbolized, it said, the massacre of millions of “gentle and intelligent” birds. PETA promotes a vegetarian Thanksgiving…



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