The first debate of the 2012 general election season—the one that will fundamentally alter the direction of this race even though both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are terrible debaters who will lose to each other—is upon us. So settle in to your couch, open a beer, review your debate drinking game rules, and let Max Read and I "liveblog"—that's a dead technology from the days before Twitter—the action for you. Let the zingers fly! (No seriously you can watch the ball game and just check in here; we'll keep you updated.)

10:34 (John): Well fuck this shit. Get ready to hear a lot of LET ROMNEY BE ROMNEY. Here comes the comeback kid. Goodnight, and good luck.

10:28 (John): Barack Obama just gave his wife the shittiest anniversary present anyone could conceive of.

10:26 (John): "The reason I'm in this race, is there are people who are hurting." Well, I STARTED running back in 2007 before people were hurting, but I STAY IN IT because people are hurting now.

10:24 (John): Well if Obama thinks Lehrer did a great job in this debate, he doesn't deserve another term.

10:22 (John): THE ZINGENING.

10:22 (John): Mitt Romney's "borrow money from your parents" line should be such a gimme, such an easy shiv. And Obama just garbled it all to hell.

10:20 (Max): Mitt is like someone after a couple coffees and an Excedrin, Obama is like, I dunno, half a bottle of red wine and a Xanax?

10:18 (John): I can't believe this debate is going to end without Obama shoving 47% and legitimate rape and the Cayman Islands down Romney's fucking throat. It's malpractice.

10:17 (Max): Things Romney has said he loves in this debate: Coal, Big Bird, great schools.

10:16 (John): My fear is that the takeaway is more about attitude and bearing than anything anyone says. And Romney had all the energy and passion.

10:14 (Max): I mean, Romney is kicking his ass but this debate is so wonky and Washington-obsession-y that I kind of can't imagine anyone who is actually undecided will watch or care.

10:14 (John): I can't figure out who gives less of a shit about this debate: Obama or Lehrer. "Do you guys agree of stuff, or maybe you don't? I don't know, talk amongst yourselves."

10:12 (John): Only one of these guys has been bringing the zingers, or trying.

10:08 (John): Romney: "I used to consult for health care companies." Voter in Ohio: "I like the cut of that health care consultant's jib."

10:07 (John): If Obama lets this debate go by without mentioning Bain Capital or the fact the Romney is contemptuous of poor people then fuck it all.

10:06 (John): Has Obama said anything directly to Romney yet? Romney has been looking at him and lecturing him all night.

10:00 (John): It sure seems like Obama got coached to just play it cool and lay low.

9:59 (John): Romney isn't the only obscenely wealthy, robotic, soulless monolith having a good night.

9:58 (Max): Rays beat Orioles, Yankees clinch the AL East title.

9:55 (John): Is Romney calling for breaking up the banks? I mean if you're not too big to fail....

9:54 (Max): Clearly the Obama team spent NO time on zingers.

9:53 (John): After this is over someone will do a words-per-minute analysis and find that even if they got the same amount of speaking time, Romney said 25% more than Obama.


9:49 (John): Somewhere a Politico editor is beating his head against the wall—WHY DIDN'T WE CALL IT FIRST?

9:48 (john): I LIKE TO FIRE INSURANCE COMPANIES. You really do get the sense that Mitt Romney gets a thrill out of calling up his auto insurance company and threatening to switch.

9:48 (John): I do think Obama is not doing very well tonight. But the fact that a web site that a lot of people pay attention to feels the need to declare a winner before it's even half over represents much of what is wrong with the way we cover politics.

9:45 (John): Well we've reached the precise halfway point of the debate so it's time for BuzzFeed to weigh in: "How Mitt Romney Won The First Debate."

9:43 (John): I wish Romney would tell MY age cohort that we could stop listening.

9:42 (Max): The conservatives I follow on Twitter are SO EXCITED about Mitt Romney tonight. I think the debate is giving them pretext to pretend they've finally been convinced he's a good candidate.

9:41 (John): Lehrer's basic approach to moderating is, "I'm told you fellas disagree on some things. Which ones?"

9:40 (John): I suspect that Obama and Romney do not in fact have similar positions on Social Security.

9:35 (John): MSNBC is leaning on the split-screen too much. Painful to watch these guys' faces while the other one is attacking them.

9:34 (John): Romney doesn't want to go down the "path to Spain." Isn't "Path to Spain" a Jethro Tull album?

9:32 (Max): Mitt nails the number of years that Obama has been president.

9:32 (Max): The REAL winner is Robbie Cano, who's 4 for 4 with 6 RBIs.

9:28 (Max): What Mitt doesn't know is that PBS' budget is so low that Jim Lehrer IS Big Bird, now. He gets in the suit every weekend.

9:28 (John): *Jim Lehrer tears off mask and is Tawney Kitaen*

9:27 (Max): Right now the debate feels like the 30-second intro to a really good late-80s hair metal music video and Ratt or someone is going to burst through the back wall with a sick riff any second now.

9:26 (John): Can we talk about gay marriage or something people can get nice and angry about?

9:24 (Max): The real tragedy of this debate is that all the baseball games are really boring right now too.

9:22 (Max): I feel like Obama is as bored by himself as I am and keeps losing his train of thought.

9:21 (John): First failed ZINGER of the night goes to Obama.

9:17 (John): Why does Mitt Romney want to lower taxes if he keeps insisting that he actually won't really lower taxes?

9:15 (Max): This is so far kind of a substantive debate, which is just making it even more boring. WHERE ARE THE GIFABLE MOMENTS?!

9:13 (John): "And by the way: I like coal."

9:12 (John): Romney just quoted Biden's "buried" gaffe without saying so.

9:11 (Max): yanks up on red sox 7-1, o's down 0-4

9:11 (John): Hmmmm Obama keeps talking about helping companies that invest here in America instead of overseas I wonder why?

9:09 (John): "Mr. President, please respond directly..." Nice try Jim!

9:07 (Max): Romney nails his first dad joke of the night



8:55 (John): Just heard Obama will be accompanied on stage tonight but the S1W, Public Enemy's security detail.

8:50 (John): OK kids, we're 10 minutes out and I've already heard CNN fact-check an old Romney statement as "true but misleading." This is going to be a long night.