After the debate — "The problem with Marco, he's a choke artist...":
The "choke artist" insult isn't completely new. Trump used it in a press conference in South Carolina on February 15th:
I had to look up the term "choke artist."
In sports, a choke is the failure of an athlete or an athletic team to win a game or tournament when the player or team had been strongly favored to win or had squandered a large lead in the late stages of the event. Someone who chokes may be known as a choker or, more derisively, as a choke artist.The other day, I blogged a clip of Scott Adams talking about how well Trump had done by getting a distinctive insult for each of his opponents, the "linguistic kill shot," an insult that sticks. Trump likes to pick things that are visual, that will make us look at the person and say "yeah, that feels kinda right." And these are also "words and phrases that haven't been used before, so they haven't been polluted by other meaning." That was true of "low energy" for Jeb Bush. "You have an immediate visual, plus, every time you see the person, it comes up again." That's "choke artist." Visual, feels kinda right, hasn't been used in politics before.
I guess sports fans knew "choke artist" without looking it up. I knew "choke," but not "choke artist." I had to look it up. I see Urban Dictionary has the term defined. The top-voted definition is: "To fail to perform effectively because of nervous agitation or tension so regularly and [on] such a grand scale that one becomes synonymous with the word failure, usually in an athletic contest. Usually used to describe a very talented person who fails under pressure. Alex Rodriguez is a choke artist in clutch situations." ("Choke," "clutch"... sounds like car talk.)
But, there it is, the insult that sticks — "choke artist."
I'm not going to use Adams's term "linguistic kill shot." The metaphor is too real for a political campaign. But I will note that Trump used it in the debate:
TRUMP: ... first of all, he’s talking about the polls. I’m beating him awfully badly in the polls.
CRUZ: But you’re not beating Hillary. You’re not beating Hillary.
TRUMP: Well, then, if I can’t — if — hey, if I can’t beat her, you’re really going to get killed, aren’t you?