On Tuesday afternoon, everyone on the White House grounds appeared to be enjoying themselves.
The air was crisp, the three-piece military band lively—greeting reporters with a smooth rendition of Van Morrison’s “Moondance”—and the turkeys delighted to see another day.
The annual pre-Thanksgiving pardoning of two turkeys was this year in the hands of President Trump, who took to the task with obvious satisfaction.
“I feel so good about myself, doing this,” Trump said while stroking Drumstick, the large white turkey who was the recipient of one of Trump’s pardons on Tuesday. (Wishbone, the other turkey who will be allowed to live out its remaining days at the “Gobbler’s Rest” enclosure at Virginia Tech, was pardoned in absentia; every year two turkeys receive the pardon, though only one is granted its reprieve publicly. Both turkeys were guests at the Willard Hotel ahead of the ceremony.)
Trump appeared to revel in the beneficence he was able to bestow upon Drumstick, who, he said before the pardoning, “is going to be very happy.” Drumstick, who weighs 36 pounds, could be heard to gobble several times, perhaps in excitement, before the pardoning began.
The annual turkey pardoning is sometimes a slapstick affair—think, for example, of one of the exonerated turkeys pecking George W. Bush in 2001—and Trump’s own history with fowl is complicated. During a photo shoot for Time in 2015, Trump found himself beleaguered by an irritable bald eagle who mussed his coiffure and tried to peck him when he reached close to the bird.