The first rule of the third Democratic Party presidential debate probably should be, “Don’t watch.” The Democratic National Committee has been so imperious and annoying with its rules, excluding a host of candidates who are clearly (or at least arguably) outperforming some of the participants in tonight’s debate, that it feels wrong to reward these arbitrary rulemakers with an audience.
Don’t be surprised if one or more of Marianne Williamson, Tulsi Gabbard, Steve Bullock, Tom Steyer, or even Michael Bennet or Tim Ryan gets a spite-bounce in the polls after being shut out of tonight’s event in Houston. The DNC’s unpopularity even among its own voters is such that exclusion will be tantamount to endorsement for some of these people, particularly candidates like Williamson, Gabbard and Steyer, who met the donor threshold for tonight’s debate but were left out based upon other criteria.
As for the drinking game: the previous two rounds both resulted in hangovers so violent that rule adjustments are clearly warranted. Phrases like “existential threat” and “this is not who we are” were used so often that anyone playing with actual shots of hard liquor would probably have died within fifteen minutes of airtime.
Because of this, and the luxury of a more narrowed field, I’m trimming the rules even more, for the most part confining drinks to specific candidates saying specific things. Players are of course free to take despair shots at their leisure.
To play, drink EVERY TIME:
- ABC or Univision deploys a sports cliché during some part of its debate broadcast. Double shot for any ripoff of Monday Night Football’s introduction sequence.
- Warren mentions “corruption.”
- Klobuchar uses a folksy aphorism.
- A moderator asks Sanders a jerky question whose subtext is, “Aren’t you really a cranky old socialist menace who can’t do math?”
- Buttigieg tells a story that “incidentally” underscores how young he is.
- Someone makes gratuitous use of profanity. Make it a double if it’s Beto O’Rourke.
- Yang comes through on his promise to commit a “big” surprise act at the debate. Triple-shot if he twerks.
- Biden fails to make sense.
- Biden says something offensive.
- Biden begins speaking in Tenctonese, the language of the fictional humanoid visitors in Alien Nation.
VOLUNTARY shots for mention of: Common sense, existential threat, billionaires, cages, unity, fundamentally, Mitch McConnell or Malarkey!
Also, you may (if you choose) drink if a candidate tries to speak Spanish, tells a story about a suffering ordinary person, makes a rehearsed/uninspired Trump witticism, cites hardscrabble roots, or recalls having a real job once upon a time.
Drink ONCE when it’s all over and a pundit lies to you about who won.