A Toast to the Debates!

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

So the presidential debates are finally over! The third and last one – it was supposed to be about foreign policy – just happened, and now the candidates are back on the campaign trail for the home stretch.

As usual, there has been a flood of analysis about this third debate, domestically but also in the international press. But at EuroSavant we’re always on the look-out for the unusual angle, and I believe we’ve found it: Beer-mugs for Obama from Der Spiegel, by that magazine’s lady correspondent in New York, Wlada Kolosowa.

Yes, that’s a very Polish name (given name should be pronounced VWA-da), although Wlada turns out to be a quite pretty 25-year-old Russian (pictures here) who has moved to New York City to study “Creative Writing” at NYU and who while there apparently is Der Spiegel’s local stringer.

A 25-year-old foreigner, just arrived in-country, as a debate analyst? you might exclaim. Well, how about if Wlada investigates the drinking-game perspective? That’s what she does here, heading for a popular bar for NYU’ers in Brooklyn called “Galapagos” on Monday night.

That explains the article’s title, and Wanda does a pretty thorough job, despite actually going on-location to but one bar. Did you know that for many Americans “Where are you going to watch the debate?” is just as common a question as “Where will you watch the World Cup Final?” is in Germany? Or that there is an endless variety of presidential debate drinking-game regimes, each according to taste? Many newspapers publish them, she reports, and universities all have their own. These amount to lists linking key words with associated drinks: sort of like bingo, if you hear these words, then you’re supposed to take the associated drink. Or sometimes something else: the drinking game rules published by the feminist website Jezebel, for example, prescribe that upon hearing a candidate mention his mother, players should then promptly send their own mothers a “drunk SMS” either thanking them for the good times or else cursing them for the way they screwed up their daughter’s life. Or there’s the list from what Kolosowa calls the “macho site” BroBible that even prescribes smoking a joint if/when either candidate starts talking about “green jobs.”

All in all, pretty light-hearted stuff. But Wlada also takes the trouble to gauge the mood towards President Obama among her sample of young NYU’ers. As you can imagine, the euphoria of back in 2008 is by now truly well and gone, especially since all of these young people have major anxieties about landing jobs after graduation. (And have no doubt about it, NYU is an expensive school, meaning that most of them will leave there with significant debts to their names.) On the other hand, most are willing to give Obama a pass on the situation, recognizing that in reality there is little the president can do about employment.

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