President Donald Trump patted himself on the back as he participated in the annual White House turkey pardon on Tuesday. “I feel so good doing this,” he said as he petted and pardoned the lucky bird, Drumstick.
But over on Twitter, some joked that Trump’s mercy on the turkey might be short-lived if Drumstick isn’t adequately thankful.
In a nod to Trump’s recent complaint that he didn’t get enough appreciation for helping three UCLA basketball players return to the U.S. following shoplifting charges in China, one Twitter user quipped: “After @realDonaldTrump pardons National Thanksgiving Turkey at White House, Turkey neglects to thank him. Trump eats him.”
Cracked another user: “Surprised Trump pardoned a turkey and didn’t leave it to rot in a Chinese prison.”
Some Trump critics took the moment as an opportunity to reflect on what they consider Trump’s general failings as president.
“Gotta say these traditions — the turkey pardon, and other cutesy things presidents do — are lost to the ether for me when Trump performs them,” tweeted MSNBC’s Joy Reid. “The legal, ethical and moral clouds over his presidency are like a film on the camera lens.”
Others suggested that the president should save the pardoning for members of his own family.
Trump, for his part, thought the pardon made him “a much nicer president” than Harry Truman, whom Trump claimed once “refused” to pardon a turkey.
According to The Orlando Sentinel, Truman didn’t pardon a turkey he was given as a gift in 1947. Instead, he “did what most other chief executives before and after him did — at least until 1989 when George H.W. Bush began the pardon rite: Truman ate them.”
The Toronto Star‘s Daniel Dale also reported that Truman didn’t “refuse” to pardon the turkey; he was just given it as a gift.