The annual turkey pardoning at the White House is one of the nation's funnier and more lighthearted presidential traditions, but this year it offered a valuable insight into one of the huge problems facing the country. As the #MeToo movement sweeps the country, the highest profile man accused of sexual harassment — the president — still hasn't faced any backlash. And now, there's even a tweet that's making people say that Trump respects turkeys more than women — and the connection is almost too easy to make.
The tweet shows the moment in the turkey pardoning ceremony in which Donald Trump asks the turkey's handlers if he can touch the turkey. That question, of course, directly contrasts with the president's words from the lewd Access Hollywood tape of him that hit the news in October 2016. The backstage tape, which was recorded in 2005, featured a conversation between Donald Trump and then Access Hollywood host Billy Bush. When Trump and Bush see Arianne Zucker, the soap opera actress who had come out to meet them on the set of Days of Our Lives, Trump responds to her appearance in a very disrespectful way.
"Whoa!" he says, in the video, and then continues:
I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
At that point Bush cuts in, saying, "Whatever you want."
Trump's next line, the most disturbing of the entire tape, has since been repeated in myriad contexts, all over the place: “Grab them by the p---y. You can do anything.”
And yet, as this tweet points out, Trump evidently did not feel the same way about a turkey.
After the tape was released, Trump responded to it with an apology. “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize,” he said in a short video. "I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am."
This apology didn't entirely erase the perception that Trump does not fully respect women, though, because at least 13 women have publicly alleged that Trump sexually harassed them in one way or another, and several of them can offer corroborating witnesses. Trump categorically denies all of those allegations. When Anderson Cooper asked Trump during the second presidential debate, which came soon after the release of the Access Hollywood tape, whether Trump had ever “actually kiss[ed] women without consent or grope[d] women without consent?” Trump responded first by saying that "nobody has more respect for women" and then by saying more clearly that he had not.
As is so often the case, it comes down to an issue of he said, she said. With the turkey, however, there's no question. Before Trump touched the turkey, he gave a perfect example of what it looks like to obtain consent — that is, if you ignore the fact that a turkey, as a nonverbal animal, is incapable of actually giving consent. But in the video, you can clearly see the president hesitate before he touches the turkey, and then ask, out loud, whether it's okay for him to do so. While obtaining consent doesn't have to be take that exact form — it can actually be pretty sexy if you do it right — just the ask itself is critical.
All in all, Drumstick the turkey is one lucky bird — he obtained a pardon, he will now live out his short life in peace, and he got to meet the president. Also, if you ask the women accusing Trump of sexual harassment, Trump accorded the turkey a consideration that he allegedly didn't grant any of them: the question of whether his advances were okay.