In a move that Washington insiders view as an attempt to improve his image as a more hawkish, tough-minded leader, Pres. Obama made the startling announcement today that he is breaking with the longstanding tradition of granting a presidential pardon to the Thanksgiving turkey.
"These are times when we all are called upon to make sacrifices," said the president. "These are times when we are called upon to give our all. I'm not going to stand idly by while our brave men and women are fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and thousands of bars and clubs all over the world and just allow this turkey to simply retire to a farm in upstate New York."
The turkey in question was visibly shaken at the surprise proclamation. Later, his attorney told reporters that he, too, was stunned by the president's sudden reversal. Said noted Sarasota defense attorney, Derek Byrd, "My client was led to believe that he would, naturally, be pardoned, as has been the tradition since 1963, when then Pres. John F. Kennedy pronounced those words of hope and inspiration, "Let's just keep him." Is not my client entitled to those same protections under this implied federal mandate?"
Legal scholars have been scrambling to find any type of precedent regarding such cases, realizing full well the lethal implications for the Christmas goose, as well. Given the looming deadline of the Wednesday evening execution, Byrd said he would be filing motions in federal court to stay the sentence until he could present his argument. His staff was combing the Congressional Record to determine if there were any friendly vegetarian politicians who would rally to the defense of Byrd's bird.
Byrd acknowledged that he had a tough road ahead of him. "I think the United States did a great disservice to the noble turkey when they disregarded the advice of Benjamin Franklin and made the bald eagle the national symbol instead of the turkey. I'm afraid it's been downhill for the species ever since. Now the word 'turkey' has become a pejorative term of derision and scorn. That and a country somewhere over in the Europe, I think. Or maybe Asia."
Court officials, citing the impending Thanksgiving holiday, did not hold out much hope for a delay in carrying out the President's wishes. Said one anonymous staffer, "Considering that most of us are going to be gorging ourselves on turkey on Thursday, it's tough to mount a lot of sympathy for the guy, you know?"
Grassroot supporters have formed an ad hoc coalition of death penalty opponents, vegetarians and, the strangest bedfellows of all, right-wing conservatives, who normally have nothing but contempt for the two former groups. Given their intense abhorrence of all things Obama, they have thrown their considerable clout behind saving the turkey.
Said Glenn Beck, "While we hate the bleeding hearts who whine about the death penalty and the liberals from the likes of PETA who whine about killing and eating meat, we hate Obama even more. To that end, we have formed the Waive the Turkey Foundation or WTF.
"You see, I've talked turkey with that turkey and found him to be a staunch patriot," Beck continued, fighting to hold back his trademark tears. "I've looked him in the eye, stood snood to snood with him, and know in my heart that he is a true American bird."
Replied Obama Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, "Tell Beck to keep talking. We like a little 'whine' with our turkey."
Documents just released indicate that the father of this year's turkey had been on death row in New Jersey and was executed just last year around this same time, as seen in this unconfirmed deathbed photo.