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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Quitting Plastic Turkey

It's harder than you might think.

Tim Blair received a plaintive cry for help from a fellow who'd always believed that the "plastic turkey" story was real. Hit the link for a round-up of sources useful in fending off those plastic turkey junkies.

The question nobody asks is: so what if it was? That is, what if the turkey were plastic?

For those of you who came in late, on Thanksgiving of 2003, President Bush made a secret trip to Iraq to spend a (very) little time with the troops. He was photographed hoisting a beautiful roasted turkey on a platter.

The Washington Post noted that “A contractor had roasted and primped the turkey to adorn the buffet line..." (that link, stolen from Tim, also has a photo of Bush holding the bird). In other words, it was a real turkey, but it was not meant for eating. It was probably inedible, having been undercooked and sprayed with gunk to make it shiny and brown. Because it was a display, you see. For show. Not for eating. A prop.

So what is the material difference, in this context, between a plastic turkey and a real but inedible turkey? I can't see any.

But that's OK, because in order for the plastic turkey story to have drumsticks, you'd have to think that someone believed that Bush alone was bringing the troops their turkey.

Here's the scenario:

It's Thanksgiving Day, and the troops in Iraq are sad because they can't be home eating turkey with their loved ones. To add insult to injury, they are called to the chow hall anyway, and made to sit and listen to some brass gas away for a few minutes. But then a miracle occurs! President Bush walks in, and he has a turkey with him! They will have Thanksgiving dinner after all! Hurray for Bush!

So they cheer him, and he says a few words, and has many pictures taken of himself, hoisting the bird. The soldiers gather 'round in gratitude.

But, then -- uh oh! --Bush leaves, and they discover the turkey was only plastic! And as they stand in consternation and dismay, the brass announces that they'll be eating their usual ration of stale bread and water today.

Poor fools! If only they weren't drawn mainly from the ranks of the poor stupid minorities, they might've asked themselves:

  1. Are there ovens that big on Air Force One?
  2. Or was that turkey cooked in Washington?
  3. Hours ago?
  4. Was it refrigerated? Do they have refrigerators that big on Air Force One?
  5. Why'd he only bring one turkey for 600 of us?
  6. Will there be mashed potatoes? Cranberries? Stuffing? Pumpkin pie?

Well, no, of course it didn't go like that. I saw the film on TV, and Bush did not stride into the hall bearing a turkey. He picked that turkey up from its resting place, hoisted it, and made some sort of joke. After talking to the troops for a few minutes, he got behind the steam table and dished out food.

I remember this, because he was serving up sweet potatoes, which I hate. I asked myself, if I were in line, and the President of the United States offered me a sweet potato, would I take it? On the one hand, it comes from the Spoon of the President; on the other hand, it's a stinkin' sweet potato.

And, for those who can't quit the plastic turkey cold turkey, we will stipulate that he did not stay there slinging up hash until the last man was fed. That was indeed a photo op; before dinner was over he turned the sweet potato-infliction duties over to some Halliburton employee and went to do something else.

Many people who have been in the military have noted that real-but-prop turkeys adorn Thanksgiving buffets on American bases all over the world. This, to my mind, is a shocking waste of food. After all, they could always use a plastic turkey.

Perhaps our lefty friends would like to focus on that outrage instead.