In the event that you end up in deep conversation about whose fault it is that the Super Committee failed, whether Occupy Wall Street matters or who will be the Republican nominee to take on President Obama, Slate has you covered. They published their annual Thanksgiving guide that covers every side for all the current hot-button issues so you'll know what to expect.
For example, what if Dirty Uncle Henry challenges die-hard liberal Aunt Meryl on whether Obama is a real leader? The arguments:
No (conservative version): New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had it right: "It's the chief executive's job to bring people together and to provide leadership in difficult situations. I don't see that happening." And it didn’t begin with his failure to push the supercommittee. He ducked the findings of his own deficit commission. He turned his health care plan over to Congress, creating a patchwork mess. In the 2008 campaign, he said he would change the tone in Washington, but except for a few bipartisan cocktail parties, he never really took any chances to make rhetoric of 2008 a reality. On foreign policy, just remember one phrase: "Leading from behind." What does that even mean?
No (liberal version): From the start, Obama caved in negotiations with Republicans. The stimulus was too small. He should have used reconciliation in Congress to pass the public option or to get real energy legislation. When he negotiated the deal to extend the Bush tax cuts, he should have extracted a promise from Republicans not to turn the debt ceiling into a fight. The passionate Obama of the 2008 campaign has disappeared. You never know where this president stands, and when he does stand firm it's usually temporary.
Yes (administration version):GM is alive and Bin Laden is dead. The "leading from behind" you disparage produced regime change in Libya while limiting U.S. commitment of lives and money. Oh, and Anwar al-Awlaki is dead, too. You can disagree with the direction of Obama’s leadership, but near-universal health care, financial regulation, a second stimulus (extracted during the negotiations to extend the Bush tax cuts), repeal of the "Don’t Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and the withdrawal of troops from Iraq are all significant accomplishments. Liberal critiques of the president ignore the choices he faced and the constraints on his power. Conservative attacks on his leadership are really just disagreements on the issues.