The Presidential Turkey Pardon, the Most Awkward Tradition in American Politics

November 26, 2015 11:44 AM

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The tradition of presenting a turkey to the president began with Harry Truman in 1947, but the annual turkey pardon began with a joke Ronald Reagan made in response to a question about whether he'd pardon Oliver North, who had not yet been tried for his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair.

His successor, George H.W. Bush, instituted the pardon as a permanent annual tradition in 1989, thus requiring that every year thereafter, the leader of the free world submits to an awkward, much-photographed moment with a large and often resistant bird. As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, here'...

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