Our presidential debate drinking game got… dangerous. If you diligently played by the rules, there’s a decent chance you’re just now waking from a coma. Honestly, we’d never seen so many items hit so quickly in one debate.
Given that harrowing experience, one might think that we would discontinue these drinking games. Of course not. Once more unto the breach dear friends!
And, frankly, this is debate where you really need a game to keep yourself engaged. The Vice Presidential Debate is always much lower stakes than the varsity version. Can anyone even identify a memorable moment from a VP debate since the early 90s? Lloyd Bentsen dunked on Dan Quayle in 1988 and James Stockdale didn’t know who he was in 1992 and that about closed the door on VP debates. Since then the only interesting narrative from these exercises in dueling talking points was Joe Biden NOT openly making fun of Sarah Palin. Hardly thrilling political theater.
So grab your beverage and a shot of dexamethasone and get ready for this.
All references require a sip unless otherwise noted.
Supreme Court: We always have to put this one in there, but this should be far less dangerous this time around. The first presidential debate already thoroughly tilled this soil so the institution should only come up incidentally tonight, if at all. On the other hand…
Amy Coney Barrett… With The Virus… In The Rose Garden: Mike Pence is, ostensibly, the administration’s point person for COVID-19, and with the virus running roughshod throughout the White House and stemming directly from a mass gathering held by the administration, take a sip whenever that gathering is referenced or Amy COVID Barrett is name-checked.
On That Note…: Finish a bottle if someone slips up and uses the name “Amy COVID Barrett.”
Brown v. Board of Education: The dumbest part of every VP debate is when one candidate tries to make a big deal out of some narrow policy daylight between the presidential candidate and the running mate and pretend that matters more than the fact that the other party is diametrically opposed to both stances. Kamala Harris went after Joe Biden for being elected on a platform of opposing mandatory busing. It was a super big primary debate moment because the media amplifies shiny objects and utterly superficial takes. But then it turned out Harris also opposes mandatory busing. Meaning… she supports the same thing she criticized Biden for supporting? Oh. As I noted at the time, a good moderator’s follow-up should have been “and what is your position Senator?” Because these debates, if we have to have them, shouldn’t be about fights between the candidates, but about using the conversation to tease out and clarify distinct policy distinctions to help a voter understand each candidate. This is why I should be moderating these things. And, yes, I’d still do a better job even if I continued with the drinking game on live TV while doing it. GAAHHHH. I digress. Anyway, let’s watch Pence try to stir up a segregation problem for Biden while simultaneously pushing judicial candidates who refuse to even answer whether or not they’d bring back de facto Jim Crow.
“Crime”/”Criminal”: This might turn out just as bad as “Supreme Court” did last time. The Republicans are trying to paint the Russia investigation as a “crime,” several people in the president’s orbit have committed “crimes,” election fraud and voter intimidation are both “crimes.” Hopefully this only comes up in a relatively germane topic discussion, but I fear we’re going to hear a lot of it all over the place.
Was She A Prosecutor?: Sip every time we hear that Harris was a prosecutor/attorney general.
Trump Administration Crimes (double): And if Harris parlays her career to say, “as a prosecutor I would charge…” while talking about this administration or those in its orbit you take two sips.
Defunding The Police (shot): If there’s one thing Kamala Harris likes, it’s putting people in jail. Despite this, the Trump campaign is working hard to position him as the “law & order candidate.” So take a hefty shot every time this comes up.
Mueller, Comey, FBI Agents: Through last night’s flurry of Tweets, it appears that the new Trump campaign strategy is to relitigate the Russia investigation. To that end, take a drink if they go in on any of the supposed masterminds of this diabolical plot to… something.
Jeff Sessions & Rod Rosenstein: Speaking of the Russia investigation, we now have confirmation that these numbnuts were lying about the administration’s child separation policy for years. Don’t be surprised if they find their way into conversation tonight.
Abolish ICE: The immigration corollary of defunding the police.
Marijuana: Pence is exactly the sort of guy who is scandalized that Harris says she’s smoked pot before and just dumb enough to think that’s still an issue for undecided voters.
Beau Biden: He was a state attorney general. Harris was a state attorney general. They were close friends. She likes to mention this a lot.
Pence’s Legal Career (finish your drink): Mike Pence worked as a lawyer for about 4 years before focusing on politics, but if he tries to compare resumes with a former state AG you may as well get as drunk as whoever told him that was a good idea.
Tupac Shows Up (drink like you know how to party): The Republicans have left a ticket for him.
Amendments (see description): Shots corresponding with the number of the amendment when mentioned. In other words, one shot for the First Amendment, Two shots for the Second Amendment, etc.
Oh God, they’re going to do the Twenty-Fifth, aren’t they? Maybe we’ll see you for the next debate.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.