Inside Washington

US President Barack Obama (R) gives a thumbs-up as he arrives with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to speak to the press following a meeting in Warsaw, Poland, on June 3, 2014. Obama arrived for a two-day Polish visit, the first stop on a European trip, and will discuss the Ukraine crisis with his central and eastern European counterparts. 
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Michael Catalin and George E. Condon Jr.
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Michael Catalin George E. Condon Jr.
June 5, 2014, 5 p.m.

Game Off

Like any fath­er of teen­agers, Pres­id­ent Obama tries to keep an eye on the video games his daugh­ters play. But it turns out it was the pres­id­ent him­self who brought in­to the White House a game known for its vi­ol­ence and may­hem. One rated “M” for Ma­ture: “Gen­er­ally suit­able for ages 17 and up. May con­tain in­tense vi­ol­ence, blood and gore, sexu­al con­tent, and/or strong lan­guage.” The of­fend­ing video game is “The Witch­er,” which fea­tures a war­ri­or who mutates and slays mon­sters. The pres­id­ent gets a pass this time, though. He wasn’t be­ing a bad par­ent; he was just ac­cept­ing a gift from an­oth­er head of gov­ern­ment, and he sug­ges­ted on his trip to Po­land this week that the game has nev­er even been opened. “The Witch­er” is based on a series of fantasy stor­ies writ­ten by Pol­ish au­thor An­drzej Sap­kowski, and it was giv­en to Obama by Pol­ish Prime Min­is­ter Don­ald Tusk in 2011. On his re­turn vis­it, the pres­id­ent ac­know­ledged that the game has “won fans the world over” and called it “a great ex­ample of Po­land’s place in the new glob­al eco­nomy.” But he ad­ded, “I con­fess I’m not very good at video games.”

George E. Con­don Jr. 


Hold the Phone

There’s an old saw about Sen. Chuck Schu­mer that has cir­cu­lated around the Hill: The most dan­ger­ous place in Wash­ing­ton is between New York’s seni­or sen­at­or and a TV cam­era. But the No. 3 Sen­ate Demo­crat is not al­ways so eager to talk to the me­dia. He reg­u­larly speed-walks from the Sen­ate sub­way to the floor for votes, flip phone glued to his ear, wry smile on his face — prompt­ing many re­port­ers to won­der wheth­er there is ac­tu­ally a per­son at the oth­er end of the phone or if it’s just a prop. That ques­tion re­cently led a re­port­er to call out to Schu­mer, “You’re not really on the phone!” Without break­ing his stride, Schu­mer headed up the Cap­it­ol base­ment stairs and good-naturedly held his phone out for the re­port­er to see. He really was, he shot back.

Mi­chael Cata­lini



That’s a Wrap Memo to Pres­id­ent Obama’s hand­lers: Next time the boss de­cides to shoot hoops at Fort McNair, don’t for­get to bring tow­els. The Army dis­con­tin­ued tow­el ser­vice for workout war­ri­ors this week at its fit­ness cen­ter at the his­tor­ic post in South­w­est Wash­ing­ton — the nearest Army in­stall­a­tion to the White House — and at Fort My­er, its sis­ter post across the Po­tom­ac. So Obama, who has played bas­ket­ball at McNair sev­er­al times with pals, is out of luck like every oth­er gym jock. The Army’s reas­on for throw­ing in the tow­el(s)? A budget crunch arising from the 2013 se­quester deal. The move, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials of the In­stall­a­tion Man­age­ment Com­mand, will save wa­ter, laun­dry de­ter­gent, and labor costs — and solve the ever-present pil­fer­age prob­lem. Al­though a reg­u­lar pat­ron dis­paraged the gov­ern­ment-is­sue tow­els as “su­per­sized post­age stamps,” one mil­it­ary of­fi­cial said his gym had to buy more than 1,000 tow­els each year to re­place the stolen stock. “They just fly away,” he said, “es­pe­cially in the sum­mer.” McNair and My­er were among the last hol­d­outs, prob­ably be­cause of the heavy con­cen­tra­tion of seni­or Army gen­er­als who live on the two posts but work at the Pentagon and oth­er fed­er­al agen­cies. But not all is lost. “An­ti­bac­teri­al wipes to wipe down equip­ment after use will still be provided,” an Army no­tice re­as­sured. 

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