As he nears the end of his presidency, President Joe Biden participated in the annual White House tradition of pardoning Thanksgiving turkeys. The 81-year-old president celebrated his birthday on Monday by granting executive clemency to two turkeys, Liberty and Bell, who will live out their days at the University of Minnesota.
While previous presidents have used this occasion to share dad jokes, Biden opted for grandad jokes that focused on his own age.
During his speech on the White House south lawn, Biden made several lighthearted references to his age, which garnered groans from his campaign aides who had hoped to avoid the topic.
He playfully mentioned his difficulty turning 60 and jokingly acknowledged that he wasn’t present for the first Thanksgiving turkey pardoning event in 1947 because he was too young.
Although Biden’s jokes didn’t quite hit the comedic mark, he still managed to bring some lightness to the event. He joked about the turkeys’ names being derived from the Liberty Bell and even suggested they try their hand at ice hockey, given their Minnesota roots.
However, things took a turn when he mistakenly referred to Taylor Swift as Britney Spears, making the audience momentarily confused.
Despite the occasional misstep, Biden pardoned the turkeys with enthusiasm and congratulated them on their newfound freedom. The audience, which included transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg and family, cheered in response.
The president concluded his speech on a serious note about gratitude during Thanksgiving and later greeted schoolchildren while festive tunes played in the background.
As the event came to a close, Biden briefly addressed a reporter’s question about a potential hostage deal in Israel, expressing optimism. He then headed back inside to face the challenges of his presidency, including a likely election rematch with former President Donald Trump.
Notably, there was no birthday cake brought out for Biden, possibly due to concerns about the media’s reaction to the number of candles on the cake. Nevertheless, Biden’s lightheartedness and self-deprecating humor provided a momentary respite from the nation’s divided state.