In a move that some might read as “bad luck,” or “jinxing it,” Republican presidential candidates Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson attempted the absolute most important task of any United States president: pardoning the Thanksgiving turkey. None were particularly good at it, which is fine, because none of them will ever actually do it.

At this point, I have watched this video many times, and it just keeps giving me more. In an apparent bid to be seen as jovial, normal humans, these three adult wingnuts (filmed by right-of-center online publication IJ.com) each demonstrated their unique play-acting abilities for the benefit of a thoroughly not-pardoned turkey, whose legs were shackled by a pair of disembodied hands that no one ever acknowledged.

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Marco Rubio, thumb and forefinger primed in his signature authoritative point, which is also coincidentally what Cosmo tells us to do to give a hand job that extra oomph, has a lot of strong words for his turkey. They don’t completely fit together in sentences per se, but they are definitely strong words.

“One of the presidential prerogatives every year near Thanksgiving is the ability to pardon a specific Turkey.”

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“So if I’m president this is the turkey that I would have picked. Otherwise well-behaved—really not done anything that should cause us to frown upon her.”

“With the power vested in me as a...I guess, presidential candidate...I pardon you,” Marco finally declares, a statement that my colleague Anna Merlan rightly described as “horribly sad.”

Carly Fiorina attempts to take a soft, maternal approach towards her turkey, whom she inexplicably decides to name Jenny. “I think you’re so beautiful, you should be pardoned,” she coos at Jenny, who stares back at her, aghast. But the best moment between these two caged animals comes at 0:47, when Fiorina explains to Jenny and America, with a serpentine twinkle, that “We are pardoning the turkey so that you go on to find yourself a nice tom, and create some turkeys that maybe will get eaten next year.”

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Wow, Carly, some things are better kept to ourselves!

Ben Carson tries to follow his comedic instincts, which would live comfortably inside the brain of a 7-year-old. “I’m pardoning it for being ugly. It agrees, haha,” he says, rudely, about the turkey that is literally right next to him. Waving his arm like a very tired magician, Carson says, “I now pardon you, Mr. Turkey,” and later, seeming to confuse ceremonies, “I now pronounce you...pardoned.”

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Carson’s best moment comes at the end of the video, when he pulls together all the elements of a political joke—take an animal, compare it to so-and-so Washington, laugh with big, white teeth—and then fails to support those elements with any specific actions or rhetorical structure.

“But uh that turkey certainly would fit for a lot of people who are in Washington now, hahaha!”

As Carly Fiorina might say to her friend Jenny: “Shhhh.”


Image via screengrab.

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Contact the author at ellie@jezebel.com.