- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 23, 2011


A reassuring 96 percent of Americans are still thankful for their lot in life, despite claims from moody pundits and much of the alarmist press that the U.S. has seen “better days,” or words to that effect. This overwhelming percentage is from a new Fox News poll that reveals virtually identical numbers across the entire demographic spectrum — Republicans, Democrats, independents, tea partyers, liberals, conservatives, blacks, whites, men and women.

There is a partisan divide in one pertinent query, though. Who are the bigger “turkeys” — Washington politicians or Wall Street executives? Among Americans overall, 46 percent said the politicians won the match: 63 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of conservatives, 37 percent of liberals and 34 percent of Democrats.

A third of Americans say the executives are the turkeys, however: 22 percent of Republicans, 27 percent of conservatives, 45 percent of liberals and 47 percent of Democrats. Yeah, well. Incidentally, 15 percent of Americans said politicians and executives were all turkeys — a sentiment shared in near equal measure across all political leanings.


“Oysters on the half shell, cream of chicken soup, fried smelts with sauce tartare, roast turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, baked squash, boiled onions, parsnip fritters, olives, chicken salad, venison pastry, pumpkin pie, mince pie, Charlotte Russe, almond ice cream, lemon jelly, hickory nut cake, cheese, fruit, nuts, coffee.”

And so reads a White House Thanksgiving menu, from the 1904 edition of the “White House Cookbook” by Hugo Ziemann, an international restaurateur who also served as White House steward, and one Mrs. F.L. Gillette, described as an accomplished cook.

Mr. Ziemann must have had the magic touch, though. The publisher lauded him for creating the “famous ‘spread’ to which the chiefs of the warring factions of the Republican Convention sat down in June, 1888, and from which they rose with asperities softened, differences harmonized and victory organized.”

Meanwhile, the Plimoth Plantation historic site in Massachusetts commands $61 per person for this somewhat grim but historically accurate Thanksgiving feast, circa 1621, with authentic spellings and punctuation intact: “Ciderkin, Cheate Bread and Butter, a Sallet, Mussels Seeth’d with Parsley and Beer, a Dish of Turkey, Sauc’d; a Pottage of Cabbage, Leeks & Onions; a Sweet Pudding of native Corn, Stewed Pompion, a Chine of Pork, Roast’d; Fricassee of Fish, Cheesecake with spice and fruit, a Charger of Holland Cheese & Fruit.”

Pompion, the sages inform Inside the Beltway, is pumpkin.


“Though our traditions have evolved, the spirit of grace and humility at the heart of Thanksgiving has persisted through every chapter of our story. … In times of adversity and times of plenty, we have lifted our hearts by giving humble thanks for the blessings we have received and for those who bring meaning to our lives.

“Today, let us offer gratitude to our men and women in uniform for their many sacrifices, and keep in our thoughts the families who save an empty seat at the table for a loved one stationed in harm’s way. And as members of our American family make do with less, let us rededicate ourselves to our friends and fellow citizens in need of a helping hand.

“As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives. Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us.”

- From President Obama’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation.


“Chances are the occupy movement will come up at Thanksgiving this year. It is also likely that a member of your family may not be up to speed on what it is all about. They may even be among those who have fallen for propaganda and despite not knowing much about the movement, they have lots of opinions. They may even get loud. Stay calm, try to explain the problems of income equality. … Be brave, occupy the table!”

- Occupy Wall Street’s official domestic guidelines for Thursday.


Political conversation looms over many Thanksgiving tables Thursday. Will it be clever repartee or caterwaul? The phenomenon has become important enough to warrant coverage on cable news.

“Are you there to change their mind or talk about what’s going on in the news? If it’s the former, you’re probably barking up the wrong tree, and you may damage the relationship in the meantime,” advises etiquette expert Anna Post, a descendent of historic manners maven Emily Post.

“It goes both ways, of course. If it becomes clear that someone is not just listening but trying to convert you, have some exit phrases on hand to end the conversation or lead it elsewhere,” Ms. Post tells CNN. “Something like ‘We’ll have to agree to disagree’ or ‘I’ll consider what you said’ are good ways to get someone to let go and move on.”


• 88 percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving.

• 73 percent say they could cook a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 without “flipping out.”

• 48 percent will celebrate Thanksgiving at home, 34 percent will dine with a friend or relative.

• 736 million pounds: amount of turkey consumed by Americans on Thanksgiving.

• 30 million: number of Americans who will watch Macy’s Thanksgiving parade on TV.

• $150: cost of a 22-pound gourmet Bourbon Red heritage turkey.

• $49.10: Average cost of the Thanksgiving meal in the U.S.

• 16.4 pounds: Number of pounds of turkey each American eats yearly.

Sources: Rasmussen Reports, Hunch Blog, National Turkey Federation, Nielsen, American Farm Bureau Federation, Heritage Turkey Foundation.

Have a happy, reassuring Thanksgiving Day, and thank you for reading Inside the Beltway.



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