The Rose Garden was prepared for the annual turkey pardon. But the president came with politics on his mind.
"They say that life is all about second chances," said the freshly-reelected President Obama. "And this November, I could not agree more."
Throngs of reporters from every corner of the globe joined a crowd of White House staffers, service members, and representatives of the National Turkey Federation to gather under a warm November sun. The lucky recipients of the president's forgiving (for the crime of being so delicious, presumably): Cobbler and Gobbler, the latter being Cobbler's back-up vice-turkey.
The birds are generally chosen for their plumage, lustrous "beards," quality snoods, and calm behavior. No one wants a repeat performance of that unfortunate incident when a turkey pecked President Bush.
"The American people have spoken, and these birds are moving forward," the president said, prompting a gobble.
The president's youngest daughter Sasha gave Cobbler a quick pat, while older sister Malia demurred.
"Now, I joke, but for the first time in our history, the winners of the White House Turkey Pardon were chosen through a highly competitive online vote," Mr. Obama said, referring to the White House Facebook vote on whether Cobbler or Gobbler would be designated the official bird. "And once again, Nate Silver completely nailed it. The guy is amazing. He predicted these guys would win."
The president also expressed his desire that "over this holiday weekend, we're also thinking about our extraordinary men and women overseas who are serving far away from home in harm's way. But the reason they're there is because they give thanks too for the extraordinary life that have here in the United States of America. So may God bless those brave men and women in uniform who are away from their families this holiday season. May God bless the American people. May you all have a very happy Thanksgiving." But even if the light-hearted event was replete with references to troops in harm's way, and allusions to the political season that just ended, the president was not willing to discuss the big news of the day. From the back of the event where reporters had been shoved, one reporter shouted to the president, "Mr. President can you comment on the ceasefire in the Middle East?"
Mr. Obama smiled but did not respond.