Start refreshing this page around 21:00 EDT. I'll be watching the festivities intently and reacting in real time.
The best idea for a drinking game I've heard is to take a drink every time the president tells the truth. (It's the best way to stay sober throughout.) In no small irony, neither of the candidates drinks, and both for largely the same reason (alcoholism in a close family member). I think the public will drink enough for both of them tonight, though.
All times below are Eastern US time, 4 hours behind UTC.
20:37: If you want to get warmed up, here are previews from Josh Marshall, Amber Philips, and James Fallows. And for the record, I'm having an old fashioned.
20:44: You can also read this fascinating article on hacking coffee makers. It's funny until it's not.
21:00: I'm watching PBS (WTTW-Chicago). In my experience, PBS tends to have the least hype and the calmest presentation after NPR. I would have NPR on instead, but radio and TV never line up in these things. Judy Woodruff has kicked it off...
21:04: And they're off! Chris Wallace lays out the rules. The woman directly behind him to the left is wearing a Biden/Harris mask. Both campaigns agreed the candidates will not shake hands at the start of the debate, which knocks everyone's bingo card off by a square right away.
21:09: Wallace starts with a question to both about the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. The president: "We have the Senate, we have the White House. ... They had Merrick Garland, but they didn't have the election." Biden: "We should wait for the outcome of this election. ... The president wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act...which will strip 20 million people from health care." The president: "There aren't 100 million people with pre-existing conditions." That's false; there are 129 million.
21:12: Biden: 200,000 deaths already; what does that mean if the ACA is struck down? The president is talking over him; Wallace is trying to get in there.
21:13: The president: "[Roe] isn't on the ballot. You don't know what's on the ballot." What?
21:14: Now Wallace and the president are arguing about Obamacare. Wallace says the president has no plan to replace it; the president says getting rid of the individual mandate is a plan. And now drug prices are coming down 80-90%? Insulin is so cheap it's like water?
21:17: Biden, on beating Bernie Sanders: "I'm standing here facing you, buddy." On the president: "Everybody knows he's a liar." On the president letting him finish: "He doesn't know how to do it." The president is trying to derail Biden with all his noise; Biden is just ploughing forward. But wow, as Quinta Jurecic wrote, the president is just so tedious.
21:21: Wallace asks about ending the filibuster and packing the court; is he willing to say whether he supports this? Biden: "That's a distraction. Go out and vote."
OH HO! Biden to the president: "Will you shut up, man?" Wow.
21:23: Biden: The president knew, and 200,000 people still died. Get out of your bunker and off your golf course and save lives. The president: It's Jina's fault. You don't know many people died in Jina, or India.
21:25: There it is! "Fake news!"
21:26: Biden, talking directly to the people at home: "How many of you lost your mom and dad with the nurse holding the phone up?" The president keeps interrupting, the picture of confidence.
21:28: The president on the vaccine: "It's a very political thing. [Drug companies] can go faster but the left won't let them." What? "We have the military all set up" to deliver the vaccine. Biden: "This is the same man who told you that, by Easter, it would be gone. ... Maybe if you inject some bleach in your arm."
21:31: Biden: "Unless he gets a lot smarter more people are going to die." The president: "Don't say 'smart'," you public schoolboy. Biden: "Oh, please."
21:32: The president: "Nancy Pelosi." Biden: "Oh, hush."
21:36: The president, on holding big rallies: "People hear what I want to say." Wallace: But, virus? "We do them outside. We have tremendous crowds. And Joe does the circles and has 3 people." Biden: "He's not worried about you, he's worried about himself."
21:37: "The Jina plague." "Two million people would be dead. ... It should never have happened from Jina."
21:39: Biden: "Billionaires have made another $300 billion...but you people at home, how well are you doing?" Here comes the $750 tax payment.
21:41: Biden on opening the economy is tying the policies back to the entire Republican Party. The president brought back Big-10 football.
21:42: And here it comes: Wallace asks about the Times article. The president: "I paid millions of dollars in taxes." Biden: "Show us your tax returns."
21:44: Now the president is trying to explain how the Obama administration gave him all the tax cuts that he used because he's not stupid. That's going to play well in Scranton. Biden: "I'm going to eliminate the ... tax cuts." "You're the worst president America's ever had."
21:48: The president is saying Obama had "the slowest recovery ever." Oh? Biden: "We had the worst recession since the great depression, and he blew it."
21:50: I can't imagine that most Americans find this at all useful. The president is just bloviating. Biden: "It's hard to get any word in with this clown."
21:52: Wallace has lost control.
21:54: Wallace: Why should the voters trust either one of you on race? Biden: "We have never walked away from trying to achieve equality." Brings up the KKK rally, and "very fine people."
21:57: A friend of mine who's a teacher says "As someone who commonly gets interrupted by children for a living, [Biden is] doing pretty decent."
21:59: Biden says nonviolence and peaceful protest work. The president interrupts with accusations about violence at protests.
22:00: Wallace: "Do you believe there is systemic racism in the country?" The president says he saved the military by getting rid of "bad and sick ideas" about sensitivity training. "They were teaching people that our country is a horrible place, that it's a racist place." Biden: "He's the racist. ... People have to be made aware of what other people feel like. ... There is nothing we [Americans] cannot do if we do it together." The president: "There was violence and racism under Obama" because of the Democratic mayors are radical lefties.
22:05: The president has insulted Chicago. Biden: "He wouldn't recognize the suburbs. This isn't 1950."
22:06: Biden: "The police need more resources. Where the officers get to know the communities."
22:08: One of my friends texted, "no legitimate candidate should get on the stage and debate [the president]." Another person texted me: "I think they should cancel the next two debates. This is totally useless. I agree with [you], Wallace has lost control." Another friend: "[Biden] cannot start acting like [the president]. ... if he does that, we've lost."
22:11: The president is boasting that Obama left him 128 judge vacancies. Will Biden say why? Hmmmm?
22:13: Biden: "He's Putin's puppy." But nothing about the judges.
22:15: The president is going after Hunter while Biden is talking about Beau. Wallace finally jumped in, but Biden didn't get his full time. The president's entire strategy is to disrupt and posture.
22:17: The president wants "immaculate air and immaculate water" but won't answer the simple question on whether he believes in climate change.
22:19: I'm annoyed with some of my friends, whose responses I will post (anonymously) at the end, who are bending over themselves trying to find ways Biden lost. I'm finding it very frustrating. I think Biden is holding his own, without getting into a shit-slinging contest.
22:21: Biden lays out a cogent, thoughtful plan to address climate change. This is what a candidate should do.
22:23: Biden goes after the president's existing climate policies. The president once again interrupts with nonsensical fear-mongering about taking out the cows or something. Wallace redirects, cuing up Biden to point out that we can create millions of jobs in environmental remediation.
22:26: The Biden campaign is already selling "Will you shut up, man?" t-shirts.
22:27: Election integrity question. Whoo boy. Biden tells people where to find good information, points out that mail-in ballots are safe according to the FBI director. Blames the president for scare-mongering; "vote, vote, vote. Vote early. He cannot stop you."
22:29: The president says "there was no transition." Crooked Hillary; a coup; they spied on me. He's getting all of the crazy in this answer. Wallace gave him a wide-open door to go off on scare-mongering about the election. But...Wallace is now following up with actual facts.
22:32: The president just admitted he wants Barret to be on the Supreme Court, and SCOTUS to decide on the ballots. "This is not going to end well," says the guy in charge.
22:33: Biden: "He's just afraid of counting the votes."
22:36: The president is "urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch."
22:37: Of course Biden will wait until the election is independently certified. (Does Wallace sound nervous? There's a definite quiver in his voice.)
22:38: Biden: "I'll be the president for everyone."