As any historian knows, John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign was headed for a certain landslide victory until he made the fatal mistake, in the first general-election debate, of forgetting Poland. Kerry is now Barack Obama’s secretary of state, and as such it’s part of his job to conduct White House business around the globe. But when it came time for the Obama administration to visit Poland this week, the president decided he’d better go himself. After all, Poland does not forget being forgotten.
Obama had another Poland-related gaffe in the making on this trip, though. As the president explained in a joint press conference today with Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister, Obama received a video game from Tusk the last time he visited the country. Specifically, Poland’s head of government presented Obama with a collector’s edition of the acclaimed action role-playing game The Witcher 2: Assassin Of Kings. The trouble is, Obama forgot to play it. (Or, in reality, he never intended to play it in the first place.)
In order to head off any awkward questions about the game—“Did you find the crafting mechanic to be well-balanced, Mr. President? Did you complete the hallucinatory-drug quest with the enormous chicken, Mr. President?”—Obama was up-front about his casual disregard for Polish video games and essentially admitted that he didn’t even crack the cellophane on The Witcher 2:
The last time I was here, Donald gave me a gift, the video game developed here in Poland that’s won fans the world over, The Witcher. I confess, I’m not very good at video games, but I’ve been told that it is a great example of Poland’s place in the new global economy. And it’s a tribute to the talents and work ethic of the Polish people as well as the wise stewardship of Polish leaders like prime minister Tusk.
Indeed, The Witcher 2 is such a strong testament to the wisdom and talent of the Polish people that you apparently don’t even need to play it to understand how great Poland is. Which is a good thing, because Barack Obama is never going to play The Witcher 2. It’s going to languish on the West Wing’s “video games of the world” shelf, right next to Japan’s Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy and Kenya’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Kirk Douglas.
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