It wasn’t exactly the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, but 10 years ago this week, Washington was consumed with another scandal, dubbed by one CNN newscaster as “Turkey-gate”: Was that a fake turkey President George W. Bush was photographed with during his first surprise visit with troops in Iraq?
The photo resulting from the visit was iconic — possibly history’s most famous picture of a cooked turkey. It’s certainly the most misunderstood. Despite being a real turkey, meant as a decoration for the chow line, Mr. Bush’s political opponents seized on it, erroneously claiming it was plastic.
In the years since, the bogus “fake turkey” story keeps churning, including slipping into 2004 New York Times and Boston Globe articles, making it into talk radio shows in 2005 and popping up in Washington Post and London Telegraph stories in 2006. To this day, it still creeps into print in letters to the editor in newspapers around the country.
“It’s a real theme in so many people’s minds, it’s almost got a religious aspect to it,” said Tim Blair, a columnist at The Daily Telegraph in Australia who has tracked the story over the past decade and said it has taken on a life of its own, playing on people’s perceptions of the former president. “If you’re of the anti-Bush faith, it’s a touchstone. It’s the book of turkey.”
The Iraq trip itself was iconic.