February 26, 2016

Trump calls Rubio a "choke artist."

During the debate, Trump calls Rubio a "choke artist" ("this guy is a choke artist, and this guy is a liar"):

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?


Curious George said...

I see Hillary washing down and big handfull of painkillers with a large tumbler of vodka...

Limited blogger said...

Growing up in New York (not NYC) we used the term 'choke artist' all the time. Mostly in sports situations, but it could apply in other areas of endeavor as well. It was a time when you could openly mock your competition, not like today where you would be chided for being too aggressive, unfeeling, not compassionate.

He also called Cruz a 'basket case', another great appellation.

traditionalguy said...

Another sports image employed by Trump was these two are so far behind they are "swinging for the fences."

That summed up last night's party. And don't get nervous, Ted. Now somebody please attack Dr Carson.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

In many polls I've seen, All the GOP candidates beat Hillary, except Trump.

Irene said...

Rubio just appeared on the Today show. He is testing a "stick insult" about Trump: "con artist."

There may be a second one: "Polish workers."

Rubio, in his boyish way, shows a real delight in zinging Trump. "I did it! I I did it!"

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Trump is not a great debater and he missed multiple opportunities to turn Cruz and Rubio's attacks back against them. Most notably he attempted to defend himself against their attacks on his employee's immigration status rather than attack the system that they, and politicians like them, created. He should constantly return to the refrain that he operates in the real world and they in the world of meaningless blather. Nonetheless, despite his stumbles, he always comes out of these things looking much the same as he went in and the other guys always seem smaller.

CStanley said...

In many polls I've seen, All the GOP candidates beat Hillary, except Trump.

2/26/16, 7:09 AM

I haven't been following that closely but I've definitely seen some polls that show that. The problem (for Cruz in brining this up) is that most people who don't follow politics don't get the difference between primaries and the general. Trump is easily relying on that ignorance by portraying it as a simple formulation, where if Hillary beats Trump by a small margin then this means that she'd beat the GOP candidates who trail Trump by a larger margin.

It's just a losing argument to trot out, when the voters don't u destined why Trump is wrong.

Humperdink said...

Saw a highlight of Cruzio, actually Rubio, accusing tRump of repeating himself 5 times in 5 seconds. Just hilarious.

I could go for the all Cuban ticket.

Limited blogger said...

The 'con artist' label won't stick. It is too diluted. Everybody in New York calls everybody they've ever dealt with in a deal a 'con artist'. Not a 'kill shot'.

David Begley said...

Rubio is no choke artist. But Trump is definitely a coward. Trump the coward dodged Megyn Kelly. Trump the coward dodged service in Vietnam.

Trump the bully threatened the mother of the Governor of Nebraska.

Trump the con artist bilked people out of millions with his fake Trump University.

Trump the loser has 12 failed businesses.

Trump the dope filed bankruptcy four times; once was not enough.

Trump the hypocrite hires foreigners over Americans.

I could go on with more.

traditionalguy said...

This season Trump is causing the rise and fall of many blather artist politicians and many media personalities with blathering careers.

He is like a great movie critic giving us a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

rhhardin said...

Kill shot of the day was from Sean Davis, working by huge aptness:

"Hillary Clinton is a dumpster fire of a candidate."

Even if you put out the fire, you're left with garbage.

H/T Tim Blair.

Saint Croix said...

Choke artist was lame. Robot was way, way better. Robot actually hurt Rubio in New Hampshire. I think "low energy" and "liar" hurt those candidates.

Rubio nailed Trump with the way he repeats things. Trump was like this: "I don't repeat. I don't repeat. I don't repeat!" That was laugh out loud funny.

I wish somebody would have said, "You debate like you are nine years old. I used to insult people too, but then I graduated from fourth grade."

The dumbest thing Trump said? "I don't mind trade wars." That's because you're an idiot.

The scariest thing about Trump? He gets bored, and then intentionally wrecks things out of his boredom. Trade wars are exciting! That's why he likes trade wars. Imagine a bored President, constantly striving to upset things and be the center of attention.

Rumpletweezer said...

Dueling. We need to bring back dueling.

MacMacConnell said...

What we saw again last night is that Trump doesn't have a clue on policy issues. He's that rude drunk autoworker that bullies everyone at the neighborhood bar.

tim maguire said...

Like Limited Blogger, I found "choke artist" to be a common term in New York. I'm surprised you had to look it up, being a sometimes New Yorker yourself.

I'm not seeing Rubio as a choke artist given that so far he's been a strong finisher--the opposite of a choke artist. He's uneven, and that's not as catchy, but I can easily see how "choke artist" could blow up in Trump's face. The difference is, "low energy" is a statement about Bush himself and could be self-fulfilling, whereas "choke artist" will be proved or disproved not by Rubio, but by the voters.

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Mac McConnell said...
He's that rude drunk autoworker

Manufacturing is such dirty uncivilized work.

Chuck said...

So is "Asshole" the operative insult for Trump? "Bully"? "Cockhead"? "Draft dodger"? There's a whole alphabet of them...

Althouse are you devoting today's posts to more rationalization of Trump or do you alternatively have some interest in Trump's laughable claims that he "cannot" release his filed tax returns while he is facing an audit, and that he just might be subjected to audit because he is a "strong Christian"?

Tank said...

Picture Rubio sitting across the table from Putin.

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Tank said...
Picture Rubio sitting across the table from Putin.

Is he getting a campaign contribution?

Saint Croix said...

The worst thing about Trump supporters is that they think he will change once he's in office. This is a man who likes fighting and conflict. He likes insulting people, cheating people, hurting people. It's what he does. His big plan is to screw China and Mexico. "I'll sign a trade deal with Mexico and China and screw them completely!" Yeah yeah, and sue them in the World Court.

A Trump administration would be completely bizarre, with both political parties united against him. People who hate both political parties, or politics, are excited about this. Both parties suck!

Expect a President Trump to jump from side to side, doing whatever the hell he wants to do. Also expect a deep corruption as he lines his own pockets and runs the country deeper into bankruptcy. If our deep debt scares you, Trump will just hasten the process, speed it up. Are you impatient for disaster? Vote for Trump. The man is a walking disaster. And if you doubt this, just look at his tax returns. Oh wait, you can't.

Larry J said...

AprilApple said...
In many polls I've seen, All the GOP candidates beat Hillary, except Trump.

There are so many polls and they're all over the board. None of them have proven very accurate to date, so putting much faith in any particular poll is likely unwarranted.

If Clinton faces Trump for the election, he's going to go after her the same way he's hitting Cruz and Rubio. Hillary is a target-rich environment, too. The press may not want to talk about the skeletons in her closet but Trump definitely will, which means the press will be forced to do so. She is going to be exposed like never before and that will cost her dearly. She knows it, too.

Saint Croix said...

Trump's new campaign slogan: "I've been audited nine years running!" The Trump University scam is ridiculous.

And people are noticing. Way to go, Marco!

traditionalguy said...

The Blather is strong this morning. Wake up. It is way too late to stop Trump with personal ridicule and creative slanders. People already like him. Time for plan B, and C, and D...

Amexpat said...

Rubio didn't choke in this debate. He seemed very comfortable and quick on his feet when trading shots with Trump.

Actually, I think they all did well. The surprise for me was Kasich who showed some fire in the belly and didn't putz around too much.

dreams said...

Choke artist is someone who can't get the job done in a pressure situation and anyone who has played sports or even golf know people like that. They are not good in clutch situations and I think that charge will stick to Rubio because he is such a pretty-boy lightweight, a banty rooster strutting around and accomplishing nothing.

dreams said...

"There are so many polls and they're all over the board. None of them have proven very accurate to date, so putting much faith in any particular poll is likely unwarranted."

People lie to the pollsters because even over the phone they don't want to risk disapproval so they give politically correct answers but we don't have to rely on the polls just look to the actual voting results and Trump is winning big time. The spinning by the elite is just sad.

mccullough said...

Rubio choked in New Hampshire. He went from second in the polls the week before to finishing fifth. He rebounded in South Carolina a bit but finished a distant second. He's a pretty smooth guy but not as smooth as Obama was in 2008.

I didn't know that he sold his house to a lobbyist for such a handsome profit. Sounds like he took the Trump University courses he's now railing against. Thats pretty sketchy, as is Cruz $1 million loan from Goldman Sachs. Trump is sketchy but that's pretty well known.

All three are sketchy artists

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

On twitter:
Trump gave Cruz $5,000 and Rubio sent him a book to beg for money.

My Israeli friendl texted me:
"Um, this actually IS a real estate deal."
Roboto thought that line was so good, lol, and it's an epic fail!

Saint Croix said...

Picture Rubio sitting across the table from Putin.

Imagine Trump sitting across the table from Putin! First off, it's the bromance of the century. They'll be kissing each other and drinking vodka shots, while they joke about killing the weak.

Don't be surprised if there is a Putin-Trump pact. I'm sure that will work out a lot better than the Hitler-Stalin deal. Trump is a great negotiator!

Anonymous said...

AprilApple: In many polls I've seen, All the GOP candidates beat Hillary, except Trump.

That's mostly true - anybody interested can check out polls for hypothetical general election match-ups over time here. (Easy to navigate among candidates.)

I don't put a lot of weight on them yet, though. I don't think a nonentity like Rubio is going to wear well in a general campaign, nor a rather unattractive personality like Cruz. But, they are running against Hillary, so her utter vileness may help! I also think Trump's match-up polling is going to improve over time (and that he may attract significant cross-over votes).

Wince said...

Howie Carr writes about Whitey Bulger being disciplined for choking his chicken in federal prison.


Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

I think the way Trump wins these things is that no one has a especially high opinion of Trump to begin with. In the debates he manages to drag everyone down to his level. For the other guys their reputation is really all they've got. Trump, on the other hand, has made serious money, built some very large buildings, become incredibly famous on TV and laid a lot of models. Nothing anyone says or does really changes that.

Amongst the politicians, Kasich is the only one with a smart debate strategy. He hammers away at what he has done and avoids the mud pit.

Michael K said...

"In many polls I've seen, All the GOP candidates beat Hillary, except Trump."

Read up about Preference Cascades.

But while there’s a class component here, it’s not as strong as some might suggest. Trump does well among college and post-college educated voters, too, and the Brexit is suddenly developing support from the sort of political class leaders who used to be pro-Europe. The difference is that the upper-class types have been less willing to show it.

In both cases, it may be that the lower classes are expressing their views more openly because they have less to lose.

Big Mike said...

Can anyone imagine Donald Trump having control of nuclear weapons? Or Hillary Clinton, for that matter? We live in frightening times.

Saint Croix said...

Trump, on the other hand, has made serious money

Weird that he won't show his tax returns, don't you think?

Forbes always talked about how difficult it was to find out how much money people actually had. Almost everybody understated their wealth to the reporters. Trump was the lone exception, always overstating his wealth.

Bluster and big mouth is a big part of who he is. I think every journalist should stop writing "the billionaire Donald Trump" and start writing "the millionaire Donald Trump." Let's see some real numbers. Trump is all fantasy, all the time.

Big Mike said...

"Um, this actually IS a real estate deal."

@ARM, that is one of the all time great comments.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

One of the reasons I like to watch foreign movies is I don't get a lot of the clichés that would annoy me if I were in the know.

One of the problems with being a low-grade Anglophile, such as I am, is every now and then I bang up against some figure of speech or something, and I think it's brilliant, and then I find out later on that it's rather run-of-the-mill.

Perhaps I should add that I was quite the choke artist back when I played sports, and I can still be counted on to pull a major flub up and say the wrong thing when pressed.

There was a New Yorker cartoon from years ago. It's a cocktail party and a woman is speaking to a man who looks a bit annoyed as another grumpy-looking man is walking away from the two of them. She says, "Please do forgive my husband, he has this nervous way of insulting people."

That's from memory so I might well have gotten that completely bass ackwards.

Original Mike said...

"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."

I collect college hockey pins. The favorite in my collection is Goldy Gopher with a noose around his neck and the phrase "Golden Chokers". It was made by a Sioux fan after a string of years in which highly ranked Minnesota choked in the play offs.

Chuck said...

I am getting more curious: Who among Althouse's commenters actually support Trump? And plan to vote for him in a primary?

I've said all along that I will vote for Trump if he is the Republican nominee, because I am a loyal Republican and I vote for my party. It is the most ghastly vote I'd ever cast. But I am a better Republican, than any purported conservative who says that he withheld his vote from a Romney or a McCain for some reason. I'm a better Republican than Sean Hannity (who proudly claims to not be a Republican, so yeah) or Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh, the proprietor of the Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies is watching the least conservative candidate in this year's Republican field win the day with no opposition from Rush.

tim in vermont said...

Is he getting a campaign contribution? - ARM

I wonder if Rubio will set up a web site through which it is possible to donate large sums of untraceable foreign money, the way Obama did. That would be interesting. Or if Rubio will give Putin a "Reset" button, that actually says in Russian "Overcharge"?

grimson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim in vermont said...

I am facing the choice in three weeks. I honestly don't have a clue where my vote is going. Not a clue. Maybe that means I am resisting a subconscious urge to vote for Trump, but I really don't know.

I just don't like Cruz and I think the tri-corner hat ideology he has is fine for a justice, but I am not sure how it will play today for POTUS, or whether it is a good job for somebody who can't really get along with colleagues. Rubio and Kasich, I guess are my choices.

tim in vermont said...

It seems pretty clear to me that ARM thinks Trump will be the easiest for Hillary to beat. I wouldn't be so sure.

eric said...

I see commenter here who predicted Trump was a Clinton plant. They predicted Trump wasn't going to run. They said Trump wasn't filing in all the states. They said they'd believe it when they saw it.

Now they are predicting Trump will use nuclear weapons in office. Or that he will be a liberal Democrat.

Don't you ever get embarrassed enough from your previously horrible predictions that you shut up and stop making them?

As to Trump Vs Hillary, remember, this isn't a popularity contest. You have to win the electoral college. Not the most votes.

After the primaries, they will start polling swing States. Then we will have a better idea where the race is. Right now, it's meaningless.

grimson said...

"Choke artist" hardly seems the kill shot Adams thinks, first, because it is being contradicted by what people are seeing during the debate, and second, it does not seem to get to the essence of Rubio. (He choked with Christie, but that seems to be the one occasion. Being unable to carry any states does not strike me as choking, because he has never really had them in his grasp anyway; he did not fail to execute, he did execute but it was not enough.)

Rubio's watch salesman may not be a kill shot, but is effective in pointing out that Trump is basically a hustler; it does get to the essence of the individual. Trump may tell you what he has is really, really great, that things will be wonderful, that he is a religious common sense conservative Republican, but it's really just a tacky cheap imitation.

Ron said...

Great, Ann. I was just yesterday thinking about this ability Trump has and was trying to think how to describe it. I think you nailed it. He's deadly with it. I'm beginning to think the guy will probably be the next president. Move to Canada before THEY build a wall?

traditionalguy said...

Rubio is as two faced as they come. He has more than one personality and he sweats up a storm when they are fighting inside him to get out.

One is a meek American loving boy. The other is a Hispanic bandito tracking down someone to rob and make his getaway. That makes Rubio a con man. So he is qualified to spot one in Trump.

But only one of them has any need to switch places and play a pretend President for fun and profit. That would be Bandito Rubio.

BrianE said...

I only saw the last portion of the debate, thankfully. But after the yelling match, Trump hammered on Rubio's profuse sweating.
One of the questioners said later that the stage was warm, warmer than he had expected, but left the implication that the heat was rhetorical, not actual. Let's assume that CNN wanted the stage hot Z(it wouldn't be the first debate where that occurred).
In my estimation, neither Cruz nor Rubio have the natural ability (natural or honed over a lifetime) of exchanging insults. It's not in their wheelhouse and gives Trump an advantage which he is using to full effect.
Trump admits he's not a seasoned debater, which is why he engages in these personal attacks, rather than on policy.

It was clear to me, based on the debate that John Kasich is the candidate that 'won' the debate and demonstrated the kind of presence we expect in a candidate. He has a track record of reigning in federal spending, unmatched by any candidate. He was criticized for not swinging at Trump like the other two-- but Trump's rope-a-dope left most of Cruz and Rubio's punches without much force.

Expect a steady diet of 'liar' and 'choke artist' from Trump since they are attacks that make the target seem defensive if answered.

And the Feb. 18 Quinnipac national poll shows Kasich (47-39), Rubio (48-41), Cruz (46-43) beating Hillary. Donald trails Hillary (43-44).

So Cruz lost a huuuuge opportunity to respond to Donald when in response to Cruz comment that Donald was losing to Hillary, Trump said "if I'm losing then you don't have a chance" (paraphrase).

Cruz or Kasich. I'd be happy with either-- since IMO the national debt/economic malaise is the #1 issue facing the country (with the implicit regulatory overreach a subtext).

Birkel said...


Now is your chance to offer specific policy victories you expect a President Trump to achieve. You can brag for eight years and I will submit, graciously, to your superior reasoning.

Be specific.

traditionalguy said...

I refuse to Cast my pearls before a swine named Birkel.

Original Mike said...

"I refuse to Cast my pearls before a swine named Birkel."

Those aren't pearls.

MacMacConnell said...

AReasonableMan said...
Mac McConnell said...
He's that rude drunk autoworker

Manufacturing is such dirty uncivilized work.

Actually, it's not so dirty or uncivilised work, great way to make #100,000+ a year. The vast majority aren't that "rude drunk autoworker".

Birkel said...


You only need one policy specific.

As you know, I have offered specifics about what I expect from a Trump nomination. I expect Liberal policies, an expansion of government and an increased rate of growth in America's debt.

And that is whether Trump or another Democrat gets elected.

Saint Croix said...

Rubio is mocking Trump. Trump was having a meltdown backstage. Trump needed a full-length mirror. Why a full-length mirror? Half your body is hidden by the podium. Rubio speculates that Trump wet his pants.

Rubio is funny and his attacks are brutal.

Diamondhead said...

To his supporters it seems like Trump can win because nothing they hear can possibly make them question their idol. Trump University, bankruptcies, hiring illegals, going after an old lady's home, donating more to the Clinton Foundation than to those wounded warriors he pretends to love, conversion of convenience on abortion, defending planned parenthood, saying W lied to get us into a war in Iraq, switching wives every few years..."See, all this stuff just bounces off him - I still love him!" Because you are under a spell, you think everyone else will come under a spell. But in reality, Donald Trump is the least popular person running for president in either party. By the time the media and the Democrats (same entity really) finish going through his tawdry past and his shady business dealings, he'll lose 35-40 states.

dreams said...

Breaking news, Christie is going to endorse Trump.

Diamondhead said...

Christie's career in Republican politics is over unless Trump picks him for VP so that makes sense.

Michael K said...

"Perhaps I should add that I was quite the choke artist back when I played sports, and I can still be counted on to pull a major flub up and say the wrong thing when pressed."

Nobody can claim to be the choke artist that Tom Watson was in 2009.

Watson, age 59, had the chance to win his sixth Open and become the oldest major champion in history during regulation play, but was unable to par the final hole and tied with Cink

I watched him pull that 4 foot putt and thought, "I've been there myself." But not for that much money.

mccullough said...

Michael K,

In the 1999 British Open, Jean van de Velde's 7 (triple bogey) on the 18th hole in the final round was the most epic choke in golf history (Norman's melt down at the 1996 Masters was the whole cringe worthy round).

Half the people who play golf in the world could have carded a 6 on that hole.

A lot of athletes who choke also perform well under pressure. Ruth ended the 1926 World Series by getting caught stealing. Mariano Rivera blew it in the 9th inning in game 7 of the 2001 World Series. We all have a bad day at the office once in awhile.

mikee said...

Carter tried a killing insult on Reagan during the 1980 campaign, deriding Reagan as being too old for office. Reagan responded by cutting brush by hand at his ranch, in front of reporters.

Mondale tried the same insult on Reagan during a live debate. Reagan responded that he, Reagan, would not take advantage of his opponent's naive innocence of youth in the campaign.

If you attack the Prince, you better kill the Prince.

tim in vermont said...

New York Yankees blowing a 3-0 playoff lead to the Red Sox counts as the all time choke, because they did it four times in a row.

tim in vermont said...

choked, I mean, not lost, that honor goes to the Buffalo Bills.

jg said...

well put, irene. the "i did it!" joy-face does not inspire confidence.

next time rubio looks like he *might* fail at something, watch out. if he does fail, it sticks. deep throat blowjob innuendo is *maybe* there if you want it to be.

'trump wet his pants' insult from rubio is interesting. for me he seems a ridiculous, filthy little child. maybe that's just how others feel about trump. who knows. i think rubio's done. we're now seeing 100% risk-everything attacks from all the mainstream figures who care to stake their credibility.

parallel to ann's theory of a cascade of secret approval for trump in the college-degree set, we see now an outbreak of coward elites who are willing to visibly all-in attack Trump but *only* after 1000 others are also doing it - part of a mob that almost retreated for good because of Trump's "i guarantee you i will punch the first one who lays a finger on me so hard that your face won't ever work right again". but at this point their blows mean little. further, if you care about truth, you know the odds of any claim you hear against trump being fair+accurate are about 0. claims that 20% of trump supporters were polled as being against ending slavery (bald-faced lie! even though 10% can be goaded into polling *anything*, they had to make it incredible), etc.

Michael K said...

"Jean van de Velde's 7 (triple bogey) on the 18th hole in the final round was the most epic choke in golf history "

Van de Velde had what must be the most incompetent caddy in professional golf.

Did you ever see the Kevin Costner movie, "Tin Cup?" I thought the scene where he keeps hitting balls in the water was unrealistic until that Open.

The caddy kept egging him on. I wonder if anybody has seen that caddy since ?

Saint Croix said...

Trump, by the way, choked on his tweet, spelling the word "chocker."

He had to delete the tweet. Fatigue? Stress? Fat fingers? Dyslexia? Relatives from South Africa?

Angry Trump Lashes Out in Typo-Ridden Twitter Tirade.

BrianE said...

Bill Buckner, '86 World Series. World Class chok.

John henry said...

You know who else used to be a choke artist?

Linda lovelace