Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a regular contributor to PostEverything.

Like all members of The Washington Post’s family, the hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts will watch Tuesday night’s State of the Union (SOTU) address by President Obama to both houses of Congress and a televised audience.

It’s been popular in recent years to develop a SOTU drinking game, and there’s no reason not to have a little fun with a speech that’s already been road-tested and media-leaked and inside-the speeched to death. This would seem particularly true at the current moment, since the actual chances of any of Obama’s policy initiatives actually getting through Congress have declined precipitously despite his surging popularity.  Based on the guest list, Obama will mention some foreign policy themes, but in that area he’s mostly going to be participating in the gridlock by threatening to veto any move by Congress to force his hand on Iran, Russia, the Keystone pipeline, etc.

That said, it would be reckless to create a game that promotes drinking based on gridlock themes. In my experience, most wonks don’t hold their booze terribly well, and Wednesday is a working day.

So, in the interest of keeping Post readers invested in the speech, but still able to function on Wednesday, here is The Most Sedate SOTU Drinking Game. And the surefire way of limiting the amount of alcohol that anyone can drink in a SOTU speech is to focus primarily on the international dimensions — if any — of the State of the Union speech.


Take a sip of your drink if:

  1. John Boehner’s skin tone is darker than the podium for Obama’s speech.
  2. John Boehner laughs at anything Joe Biden whispers to him.
  3. President Obama says anything positive about another great power — China, India, Russia or the European Union.
  4. President Obama calls for Congress to pass trade promotion authority.
  5. President Obama offers an initiative to help with stopping the spread of Ebola.

Take two sips of your drink if:

  1. Joe Biden’s skin tone is darker than the podium for Obama’s speech.
  2. Joe Biden doesn’t laugh whenever John Boehner whispers something to him.
  3. Republican members of Congress clap in response to a presidential call for trade promotion authority.
  4. Democratic members of Congress clap in response to a presidential call for trade promotion authority.
  5. President Obama mentions U.S. foreign policy toward Africa — or any country in Africa — without referring to Ebola.

Drain your entire glass if:

  1. President Obama acknowledges that he was wrong in his prior assessment of threats to the United States from the Islamic State.
  2. President Obama references an obscure international conflict that touches on an important ethnic constituency in the United States… like, say, this one.
  3. President Obama says that he agrees with John McCain on any foreign policy crisis.
  4. An actual Iran deal — not a framework, but an honest-to-goodness deal — is announced.
  5. President Obama says, “If I’m honest, I wish I was at Davos instead of speaking to your sorry asses.”

And, finally, Drain an entire bottle of Johnny Walker Blue if:

  1. President Obama says either “You know what?! The System Worked!” or “You know what?! Seriously, Everything Is Pretty Awesome. Boo-ya!” then drops the mike and walks out in less than 10 minutes.

Will you have to take a few drinks if you play this game? Sure. But will you be able to wake up Wednesday morning without a splitting headache? The hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts is betting on it.