Few things in history have a more intertwined relationship than politics and alcohol — except, maybe, journalism and alcohol. And few things drive journalists to drink as heavily as politics does. Understanding this fact might help explain this year’s proliferation of debate drinking games.
Whether it’s listening to the outlandish promises that will never come to fruition, hearing the vitriolic tone that gets under even the thickest of skins, or simply the fact that so many buzzwords and half-formed ideas are repeated constantly over the 90-minute-long debate that you can’t not make a game out of it, few television events lend themselves to competitive boozing as well as the four upcoming debates. It seems as though almost everybody covering this election (at least those who aren’t working during or after the debate, that is) has his or her own version of a debate drinking game.
Naturally, everyone has different rules. Some game drafters seem to want the public to get as drunk as possible; others seem to want to make getting a buzz as challenging as they can.
But you don’t have to be a political wonk to enjoy the debate. In fact, for those begrudging viewers lamenting the fact that the second hour of X-Factor got bumped from the TV lineup, at least a debate drinking game can help keep things interesting.
Here are some of best drinking games we’ve come across – and the craziest rules they contain:
National Journal: The D.C.-based policy journal has a lengthy list of drinking events that demand between one and three drinks every time something predictable (or unpredictable!) happens during the debate. Clearly they’re trying to get us sauced. You’ll tip your glass once whenever the audience boos or Chief Justice John Roberts is invoked. Take two drinks if you hear the words “stimulus” or “zinger.” And down three drinks if Mitt Romney challenges Obama to a $10 million bet on stage.
Craziest rule: If Barack Obama panders to the drinking-game audience by mentioning the White House beer, that’s three drinks.
BuzzFeed: An easy one for people who may have started celebrating a bit earlier, this is a simple word- association game, focusing on the terms we’ve all heard a dozen times before on the campaign trail. You’ll be drinking anytime you hear “47%,” “Obamacare,” or “Let me be clear…”
Craziest rule: If anybody mentions Mitt’s dog Seamus, Chug.
Current.TV: Al Gore’s media company goes surprisingly hardcore. They ask us to “sip like a teetotaler” (leaving the specific definition up to you) when a candidate refers to a fellow politician as “my friend” or Romney refers to someone “building that.” Take a shot anytime Romney brings up the debt clock or there’s a mention of “dogs” or “airplane windows.”
Craziest rule: Dance to “Gangnam Style” if any candidate dares to mention gun control.
Wonkette: The D.C. politics blog isn’t taking the debate lightly, knowing full well that debating should be accompanied by a bottle of whatever’s closest. If Joe Biden, the “Ryan plan” or Romney’s tax returns come up? That’s a drink. And you should finish your glass when Romney mentions he knows a prominent restaurateur or Obama references a hip-hop song.
Craziest rule: Empty the bottle if anyone references a movie released in the past year to explain anything.
Council on Foreign Relations:Nestled at the bottom of a debate prep blog post, the nonpartisan think tank is even encouraging our teetotaling tonight. Their game is the simplest, with only two rules: drink whenever Romney says “leadership” or “strength” and every time Obama says “folks” or “bin Laden.”
Craziest rule: Seriously, only two rules? That’s pretty crazy.
Reason Magazine: It’s a combination of trivia and boozing here. Reason asks that readers “take a drink and click a link” when any one of their rules is invoked. Take a sip anytime Romney says we should repeal ObamaCare or Obama brings up government funding of high-speed rail.
Craziest rule: Take a drink if anyone declares we have to out-compete our global neighbors.
SomeEcards: What, you didn’t expect this one to be serious, did you? In this satire site’s drinking game, players take a sip when a candidate refers to his wife — and take three shots if Mitt Romney makes a genuinely funny joke.
Craziest rule: Drink an entire handle of liquor if Barack Obama and Mitt Romney tenderly embrace, kiss, or call off the election.
Philly Post: In the game set up by this Philadelphia magazine site, take a shot anytime Obama says “middle class” or Romney mentions Jimmy Carter. If you’re watching on cable news, the pre- and post-game analyses are now bonus rounds: take a shot if Chris Matthews criticizes Romney while Brian Williams looks on uncomfortably. And if you’re keeping tabs on the action via Twitter, take a shot anytime someone makes you so angry that you unfollow them.
Craziest rule: If Steve Inskeep brings another commentator in to discuss things: Have some tea. You’re listening to NPR.
(MORE: Fact-Checking Obama, Romney)
Conservative Intelligence Briefing: Even partisan publications are getting in on the action. Drink when either candidate mentions his opponent in the 3rd person. Take a sip when Obama references Bain or Romney brings up the private sector.
Craziest rule: If a candidate goes over their allowed time, drink until the host stops them.
Clearly, the name of the game here should be moderation: please try to avoid drinking to excess. If the candidates hit all their buzzwords — and since they’ve spent weeks preparing for tonight’s appearances we can only expect they’ll try their best — it’s going to be a long night for those who aren’t careful, followed by a pretty rough morning.
(COVER STORY: Blue Truth, Red Truth)