DUBOIS, Indiana. “Honest,” the turkey pardoned by President Obama as part of traditional White House Thanksgiving Day festivities, led Indiana State Police on a high-speed chase over narrow state roads before holing up in a corn crib at the farm where he was raised, accompanied by a young chick he seized at an all-night convenience store in nearby Jasper, the county seat.
“There is enormous risk with any pardon,” said Greer Nilson, a professor of political science at Indiana University’s Muncie campus. “When Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich in the last days of his presidency all the other fugitive commodities traders who cut deals with Iran during the hostage crisis were outraged, asking ‘Where’s mine?’”
Police believe the chick is unharmed, and that she may have succumbed to “Patty Hearst Syndrome,” a malady named after the newspaper heiress who grew sympathetic to her kidnappers, a left-wing radical group known as the Symbionese Liberation Army.
“Victims of Patty Hearst Syndrome tend to be art history majors whose fiances are graduate students in philosophy,” said Milo Houston, an expert on obscure stuff other people don’t pay attention to. “The constant droning by their spouses about their dissertations can cause them to seek refuge with undesirable characters–anything to get away from hearing about Duns Scotus,” a medieval philosopher.
Hearst was pardoned by President Clinton without incident, but the escape of Honest may or may not cause future presidents to be more cautious in handing out pardons. “You can do psychological profiles and background research,” notes Nilson, “and still have somebody turn out to be a real turkey.”