The Emory Wheel notes that presidential debates have had very little impact on the outcomes of elections. Even the supposed great gaffe by President Ford did not prevent him from gaining ground (just not enough) on Governor Jimmy Carter all the way up to election day. But they're not completely useless:
For there’s no denying reality: Ever since they’ve become a set part of the pageantry and narrative of our nation’s presidential elections, the debates have made for some truly legendary opportunities for drinking games.
It’s true. Whether you’re waiting to see how many times Sen. John McCain starts a phrase with “My friends,” Sen. Joe Biden fails to control himself from commenting on Sarah Palin’s attractiveness or Gov. Palin fires off a riff featuring a similitude that includes pitbulls, hockey moms and lipstick, I predict your night will be far more productive in the long run than those of Sens. Obama and McCain — a prediction made safer by the fact that even the latter doesn’t want to be at the debate, despite the fact that debates are one of the few opportunities available to losing campaigns to receive equal time and coverage.
The Observer, the student newspaper of Case Western Reserve University, has what I think is the most fair and fun drinking game I have managed to find for tonight's debate. A sample:
Addresses the audience as "my friends" – 1 drink
A member of the audience jumps up shouting, "Shut up, McCain! You're not my friend! It's not like you call me asking if we can hang out on the weekend or would lend me 20 bucks!" – 2 drinks
Recommends increasing troop protections by issuing +1 armor – 3 drinks
Makes a joke about being old and/or references his mother – 1 gin and tonic
Tries to market himself as a unique maverick in vain hope that people won't remember he's from the same party as George W. Bush – 1 drink
Mentions he was a POW – 1 drink
The moderator says, "Wait, you were a POW? I didn't know that!" – 2 drinks
Is questioned on how exactly being a POW prepares him to be President – 3 drinks
Says "folks" – 1 drink
Mentions Indonesia, Hawaii, or Kenya – 1 drink
Is referred to as "Osama" by McCain or the moderator – 2 drinks and a kick in the shins
Tells an anecdote about a middle-class woman who can't get by – 1 drink
Says something so socialist that he could be quoting a communist leader – 1 vodka shot
He is quoting a communist leader – 2 shots
If there is hope for bipartisanship, it is definitely with the younger generation.