Last time around, the GOP presidential debate turned into a destructively alcoholic affair from the jump. This was primarily due to two drinking game rules: One, drink whenever Donald Trump brags about how much money he makes. Two, drink whenever you hear the phrase,”I’m the only candidate on this stage who…”
I had letters calling for a mercy rule here. “Hey, jackass, I threw up in hour two. And I’m forty-eight,” read one. “You can’t make us drink every time Trump brags about his wallet. It’s in the Geneva Conventions.”
Well, I checked. It’s not in the Geneva Conventions. Remember, folks, we’re not in this for the fun of it. This is democracy. We owe it to ourselves and to the Constitution to honor the process.
So I’m leaving the two high-volume rules in there for at least one more debate, along with some other Republican-debate standards (like uncomfortable applause for racist/sexist lines). We’re mixing in new rules also, to reflect the changing dynamic of the race.
Ben Carson is a focus in tonight’s game because of new polls that show him seizing the lead. His new frontrunner status figures to inspire lots of bad behavior from Trump, of course. But other candidates should show up here as well, particularly desperate ones like Jeb Bush who may flail wildly at Carson in an attempt to remind his donors that he’s still in the race.
The ten candidates at the grownup table tonight are Trump, Carson, the surging Marco Rubio (watch the party elders coalesce around him soon), the “low-energy” Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina (who has faceplanted pollswise since the bounce from the last debate), the stubbornly unlikeable Reagan-wannabe Ted Cruz, TV’s cheerful madman Mike Huckabee, quiet car antagonist Chris Christie, and the faceless John Kasich (could you pick him out in a lineup?).
Bringing up the rear is the man I like to call the “Republican Gallagher,” Rand Paul, who has spent much of the campaign shooting and chainsawing stuff and doing self-described “dumbass” live streams. If he drops out soon, it won’t be for a failure to search out every conceivable method of demeaning the process.
It saddens me to see CNBC moderator Carl Quintanilla, with whom I used to laugh about all of this stuff while stuck on campaign planes together, forced to wear a straight face for the whole of tonight’s event. Good luck to him.
Please do not watch presidential debates and drive. Also, please don’t run to the bathroom to do uppers to stay in the game if you drink too much. Without further ado:
DRINK EVERY TIME:
1. Donald Trump brags about how much money he makes.
2. Trump uses the words “disaster,” “loser” or “head spin.”
3. Trump says he “loves” somebody or thinks he/she is a “wonderful person,” before ripping him/her for being a loser or a disaster or whatever.
4. Trump rips another candidate’s poll numbers. Make it a double if he tweaks Jeb about cutting the pay of his staffers. Add a beer chaser if Trump doubles down and talks about how well, in contrast, he pays his people.
5. Anyone references how Hillary “lied before the committee.”
6. A candidate proposes abolishing an utterly necessary branch of government, or a politically untouchable program like Medicare.
7. Jeb Bush refers to himself as “Veto Corleone,” or insists that “Washington is the pejorative term, not Redskins.” Drink as much as you can stomach if he actually uses either line.
8. Any candidate makes an awkward/craven pop-culture reference, including references to Peyton Manning or the Broncos.
9. Any candidate illustrates the virtue of one of his/her positions by pointing out how not PC it is.
10. Any candidate compares anything that isn’t slavery to slavery. A double if it’s Ben Carson.
11. Any candidate evokes Nazis, the Gestapo, Neville Chamberlain, concentration camps, etc. Again, a double if it’s Ben Carson, who has been amping up the slavery/Holocaust imagery lately.
12. Carson cites the Bible as authority for complex policy questions.
13. Any candidate righteously claims he/she would never have compromised on the debt ceiling thing. You may drink more if you feel sure enough that the person is lying.
14. Carly Fiorina whips out a number that is debunked by Politifact or some other reputable fact-checking service before the end of the night. (Example: the 307,000 veterans who supposedly died last year because of Barack Obama’s inept management of the VA.) Actually, drink if any candidate does this.
15. A low-polling candidate makes a wild and outrageous statement in a transparent attempt to revive his or her campaign. Huckabee calling for summary bludgeonings of immigrants would be an example.
16. A candidate complains about not getting enough time. This evergreen drinking game concept is henceforth known as the “Jim Webb rule.”
17. The audience bursts into uncomfortable applause at a racist/sexist statement.
DRINK THE FIRST TIME AND THE FIRST TIME ONLY:
18. A candidate evokes St. Reagan.
DRINK EVERY TIME YOU HEAR:
19. “Selling baby parts”
20. “White Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter”
21. “Ferguson Effect”
22. “I’m the only candidate on this stage who…”
23. George Bush/My brother “kept us safe”
24. “Shining city on a hill”
TAKE A SHOT OF JAGER IF:
25. Anyone references a biblical justification for gun ownership, or insists an infamous historical tragedy would have been prevented if more people had been armed.
The following rules are optional, for the truly hardcore.
BONUS SHOTS IF:
- Ted Cruz mentions his wife’s baking skills without mentioning she worked for Goldman Sachs.
- Rand Paul mentions the Constitution, the Framers or the founders before he mentions his children.
- Someone makes a quiet car joke at Christie’s expense.
- Fiorina mentions being a secretary or having a husband who drove a tow truck.
Watch responsibly. See you all on Twitter this evening.