Maybe you thought that as time went on, the Democratic Party debates would become less chaotic, and easier to follow.
Fooled you! Chapter four in the series of Democratic Party debates begins tonight in Westerville, Ohio, on the Otterbein University campus, and instead of ten candidates onstage, which has been the format to date, we will now have twelve. The list includes Joe Biden, Julián Castro, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren.
The first rounds of Democratic debates have been weighed down by the dynamic of 20-plus candidates fighting tooth and nail to prove their mettle to donors. This has led to a lot of superficial screeching and virtue-signaling, with many trying to Win the Internet with rehearsed attacks. It hasn’t really worked. Since the last rounds in Houston in early September, many of the more bombastic candidates — well, Bill de Blasio, anyway — have flamed out.
Now we have fewer candidates overall, but too many still to comfortably fit on one stage, so the hurried carp-and-scratch dynamic that dominated the first rounds will likely worsen. There are also still five candidates excluded based on DNC criteria that seem even more arbitrary than before, so tonight’s contest won’t involve Marianne Williamson, Michael Bennet, John Delaney, Steve Bullock, and Tim Ryan. Those five will be spared a fourth round likely to be dominated by #impeachment, Bernie’s stent, and calls for Joe Biden to share more views about gay bath house sex.
In any case, Katie Halper (@kthalps) and I will be commenting and tweeting on the debate live on Rolling Stone’s YouTube channel as we drown our sorrows in drink, beginning at 7:50 p.m. tonight. To prevent the excess boozing that took place in previous rounds, we’re encouraging everyone to stick to beer and very small shots. As always, do not politics and drive.
The rules for the fourth Democratic debate drinking game:
Drink EVERY TIME:
- Someone makes a passive-aggressive comment wishing Bernie Sanders a return to health.
- Joe Biden says “Barack,” or does a Liam Neeson/Taken routine about how Trump is going after his family.
- Castro brings up his endorsements. Bonus shot if he does so irrelevantly.
- Someone brings up Assad in an exchange with Tulsi Gabbard. Also, drink if anyone talks about losing “credibility” and/or Trump giving Turkey a “green light.”
- A candidate talks explicitly about needing to create a viral moment to succeed, then attempts to do so. (Double if it’s Klobuchar).
- “My first day as president…”
- Kamala Harris laughs at one of her own jokes.
- Someone claims to be more for impeachment than someone else who is also for impeachment.
- Beto O’Rourke proudly/angrily cops to a right-wing conspiratorial cliché about Democrats, in the spirit of, “Hell, yes, I’m going to take your guns.”
- Buttigieg subtly chides a rival for not being as subtle as he is.
- Elizabeth Warren says “Mama.”
- Anyone says something phony tough about China.