Sick of the 2016 presidential race already? Well, tough shit, because we’ve still got another 420 days to go until election day and that’s pretty much all you’ll be hearing about from now until then. Want to have a meaningful discussion about America’s role in the Syrian refugee crisis? You’ll get live streaming video of Donald Trump giving a “foreign policy” speech on a retired US battleship instead. Interested in learning more about the ways our justice system holds communities of color hostage through broken windows policing and the institution of what amount to unconstitutional debtor’s prisons? Prepare for the 802nd piece this week about whether or not Hillary Clinton should “be worried” about Bernie Sanders’s candidacy. Pining for an in-depth piece examining the cognitive dissonance inherent in President Obama authorizing arctic drilling while simultaneously sounding the alarum on climate change? Well, you’re going to get non-stop coverage of God, Guns, Grits and Gravy Huckabee and the worn-out husk of Ted Cruz treating a bigoted, incompetent federal employee like Nelson Mandela.
There really is no way of escaping the mass produced inanity that is our nation’s bloated electoral calendar short of holing up in some cabin in the woods and not coming out until 2017. In fact, the only thing that may have been more ubiquitous than the presidential campaign coverage in recent weeks might be the onslaught of ads for fantasy sports betting sites like DraftKings and Fanduel, which have been running roughly once every 3 minutes on ESPN and any other network airing a football game. So, given the fact that our televisions will be plastered with one of these two things for every waking second from now until February, I figured I’d try merging the two by creating DebateKings – The World’s Only Fantasy Presidential Debate Site (That doesn’t actually exist—please don’t sue me DraftKings)
For those of you who have somehow managed to avoid watching or internalizing any of the eleven million DraftKings and Fanduel ads that have been shoved down our throats in recent weeks, the rules are pretty simple. On any given day, these websites will choose a number of games from a particular sport and assign monetary value to all of the players who might be in those games based on how well they’re projected to perform, providing bettors with a set amount of “money” with which to purchase their team (usually $50,000). For instance, during this coming week’s Sunday slate of NFL games, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the most expensive starting QB on the board with a price $8,300, while Johnny Manziel is the least expensive starting QB at $5,200. Now, the difficult part of the game—or the “skill” portion that got Congress to arbitrarily not consider the enterprise as gambling—comes into play because, with a $50,000 salary cap, you can’t just go around picking the Aaron Rodgerses of the league and have to take a few fliers on guys like Johnny Football to stay under the cap—although, not actually on Johnny Football because that’s pretty much the equivalent of setting your money on fire. Once you have your team, each player will earn you points based on positive actions they take on the field, like throwing a touchdown or rushing for over 100 yards.
The GOP Presidential DebateKings league will run on the same model, with every candidate being assigned a monetary value and each bettor being given $30,000 to pick 3 presidential hopefuls for their team. Obviously, The Donald will be—by far—the most expensive candidate on the board, so know that if you pick Trump for your team, that you’re not going to have a lot of money left over for your other two candidates. Of course, it’s impossible to know who to pick without first knowing the scoring system, so I’ll lay it out for you here before we get to the candidates.
DebateKings Point Scoring
“Religious Freedom” – Each time a candidate invokes religious freedom, they get 1 pt. Mentions of “Christian Values” are also accepted.
“GAAAHHH, Muslims!” – Any denigration of Islam or of Muslim nations will receive 2 pts. Criticism of the Iran deal is worth only 1 pt, but any mention of Iran “wiping Israel from the map” or insinuating President Obama is a “secret Muslim” gets 3 pts.
“Build a Wall” – Every time a candidate suggests building a wall between the US and Mexico, they get 2 pts. If they suggest building a wall between the US and Canada, they get 10 pts.
“Anchor Babies” – Every mention of the term “anchor babies” gets them 3 pts.
“Planned Parenthood” – Each time Planned Parenthood is brought up in a negative way, the candidate gets 1 pt. Advocating prohibition of abortion in all instances, including when a woman has been sexually assaulted, gets 2 pts. If a candidate mentions Planned Parenthood in a positive light, they get negative 1,000 points, but win at being a decent human being.
“Sniping” – Whenever one candidate directs a snide remark at another candidate, they get 2 pts, although an additional 2 pts can be added for mentioning 9/11, Hillary Clinton or the conservative credentials of their opponent.
“Hostile Interviewee” – If a candidate directly attacks one of the 3 CNN debate moderators on their objectivity or agenda, they get 6 pts. If a candidate levies an ad hominem attack on a moderator, they get 12 pts, although this can be raised to 15 pts if the manhood or womanhood of the moderator is brought into question.
“American Exceptionalism” – Whenever a candidate brings up the idea of American Exceptionalism on stage, they get 1 pt. Similarly, if a candidate expresses a need for America to work in concert with the international community in any way, they lose 3 pts.
“Whoooo, Obama!!!” – If any candidate praises any policy decision of President Obama they lose 5 pts.
I’m sure there are plenty of scoring metrics out there that I missed, but I figure that’s a good enough starting point. And, feel free to put some of your own question ideas in the comments section. Now, onto the candidates themselves:
Jeb Bush ($9,100): Regardless of how you feel about him as a candidate, Jeb Bush is a pretty awful DebateKings pick. He may be relatively cheap at $9,100, but he’s got one of the lowest ceilings of any candidate. His reserved demeanor and reluctance to engage in verbal fisticuffs or make inflammatory statements doesn’t suggest big things from the former Florida Governor.
Ben Carson ($9,300): Carson might be the ascendent darling of the GOP at the moment, but not here on DebateKings. Another timid church-mouse, Carson’s only real chance for getting you big points is if he goes in early and often on his faith and slams Planned Parenthood from his neurosurgical high horse. A sleeper #3 pick at best.
Chris Christie ($10,200): Unlike in real life, Christie is a solid pick on DebateKings. Due to his cellar dweller status in the polls and his penchant for pompous douchebaggery, Christie has a chance to put up a lot of points tonight. Last debate, he got into a 9/11 shouting match with Rand Paul and Christie owners will have to hope he doubles down on that again.
Ted Cruz ($10,700): If this debate was taking place 3 months ago, Cruz would be the runaway leader of the pack on DebateKings, but in the Donald Trump-era, much of the hot wind has gone out of Cruz’s sails. Cruz will still be his usual, offensive self and he’ll undoubtedly score big with Islamophobic remarks, but with Trump stealing his thunder, I don’t know if he’ll get enough minutes on screen to reach his potential.
Carly Fiorina ($9,600): The darling of the kiddie-table debate in Cleveland is also the dark horse to make waves in tonight’s debate, both in reality and on DebateKings. We’ve yet to see how Fiorina would do on the big stage and there’s a definite chance that this is her only cup of coffee in the majors, but she also has huge upside. If she can goad Trump into getting into a spat with Trump, she has a chance to score big tonight. However, if no one takes the bait and she’s left to answer questions without interference, she probably won’t rack up too many points.
Mike Huckabee ($11,000): Outside of Trump, no candidate is poised to have a bigger night on DebateKings than Huckabee. Even before the events of the past few weeks, Huck has been a bloviating, fundamentalist buffoon, but given his antics during the Kim Davis brouhaha and his insane contention that Dred Scott v. Sanford was still the law of the land, the Arkansan has really outdone himself. Look for him to up his performance in Cleveland and actually suggest putting a “personhood amendment” into the Constitution, before going on to speak in tongues.
John Kasich ($8,900): As a native Ohioan, I don’t have the fondest feelings for John Kasich, but amongst this murderer’s row of religious zealots and nativist assholes, Kasich is pretty tame. He got a good number of questions thrown his way last time, but that was in large part because that debate was in Ohio. This time around, look for Kasich to be the quiet man on the stage and to have the lowest score of any candidate.
Rand Paul ($10,100): If you don’t pick a super high priced option like Trump or Huckabee, you could do worse than to couple Rand Paul and Christie. Like Christie, Paul is in desperation mode and he’ll need to make waves one way or another. Look for Paul to lead the night in policy-based candidate attacks and sniping to a decent score, although an extended spat with the Jersey governor could mean a big day for the contrarian senator from Kentucky.
Marco Rubio ($9,400): Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, Rubio will continue to be on the outskirts of the true contenders for the nomination after this debate, and the same goes for his status in DebateKings. He does have the capability to unleash a few hyper-conservative bombs around reproductive rights and a few other issues, but for the most part Rubio’s responses are too reserved and cogent to score big. I’d avoid Rubio tonight.
Donald Trump ($11,500): Donald Trump is so far and away the top choice tonight in DebateKings, that he’s $500 higher than his nearest competitor. If you pick Trump, you’re pretty much relegating your last two picks to long shots, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be a bad investment. Anyone who watched the misogynistic insanity that Trump levied at Megyn Kelly last time around—or has seen The Donald speak in public, ever—knows that this man is walking repository of braggadocio and ignorance the likes of which we’ve never seen in a presidential race. With—god help us—3 hours of debating this time around, I look for Trump to top his performance in Cleveland.
Scott Walker ($10,000): Scott Walker is a moron, but he’s not the type of aggressive moron that plays well here on DebateKings. He will no doubt say some atrocious things tonight about women’s rights and immigration and worker’s rights, but these will probably come in the usual, brain-dead drawl that he brings to most speaking appearances. He has a pretty low ceiling for conflict with either his fellow candidates or the moderators, but he’s a safe pick to get you some decent points on the night.
Personally, I’m going with a lineup of Mike Huckabee ($11,000), Carly Fiorina ($9,600) and Ben Carson ($9,300). Feel free to post your own picks in the comments section and to score the debate, because god knows I’m not pouring over this 3 hour long exercise in imbecility to score it myself. Good luck.