Lawyer and commentator Kurt Schlichter’s new book, “The 21 Biggest Lies About Donald Trump (and You!),” goes straight to the heart of why the political left has such a disdain for the president.
Schlichter, a retired Army colonel, joins the podcast to discuss his motivation for writing the book, why he always has been a conservative, and the bias of the left-wing media.
Also on today’s show, we read your letters to the editor and share a good news story about a New York couple’s cosmic engagement, which captured the attention of NASA.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.
“The Daily Signal Podcast” is available on Ricochet, Apple Podcasts, Pippa, Google Play, and Stitcher. All of our podcasts can be found at DailySignal.com/podcasts. If you like what you hear, please leave a review. You can also leave us a message at 202-608-6205 or write us at [email protected] Enjoy the show!
Rob Bluey: We are joined on The Daily Signal Podcast today by Kurt Schlichter. He’s fresh off guest-hosting Hugh Hewitt’s radio show. Kurt is a trial lawyer, a retired Army infantry colonel, and a columnist for Townhall.com. Kurt, thanks so much for joining us.
Kurt Schlichter: Thanks for having me.
Bluey: You are the author of a brand new book, “The 21 Biggest Lies About Donald Trump (and You!).” We’re going to get to that in just a moment, but I first wanted to ask you to share a little bit about yourself with our listeners. You bring what I consider to be a unique perspective as a conservative, having been a stand-up comic, a military veteran, and now a prolific commentator. What makes you a conservative?
Schlichter: Oh, God, I was always conservative. I like to think it’s because I am not a halfwit. I mean, I just always saw the alternative as just ridiculously stupid.
Even when I was in like third grade, I remember distinctly watching the news, the Vietnam War was on at the time, there was some argument about, “We’re going to put big red crosses on our military evacuation helicopters and then the communists won’t shoot at them,” and I’m like 5 years old, and I looked at it and I said, “That’s stupid.” And ever since then, I’ve been conservative. Conservative is the triumph of reality over wishful thinking.
Bluey: Yes. Well, it certainly is. I feel a similar way. I felt like I grew up a conservative. There were some people who have those life-changing experiences, be it in college or afterward, and then there are those of us who have just always had, I think, the common sense to have those conservative ideals.
Schlichter: Yeah, I’m not one of those conservatives who’s like, “Yeah, I was liberal before.” I was never liberal, never happened.
Bluey: Well, it’s good to have you in the fight. Now, in your new book, “The 21 Biggest Lies about Donald Trump (and You!),” you call Donald Trump the most effective conservative president in decades. Tell us more about the book, why you wrote it, and how you’re setting the record straight on President Trump.
Schlichter: Well, look, I’m a trial lawyer too, among my other qualifications, and I get lied to by professionals, so I’m kind of a snob about it, and I just find our garbage establishment just so inept at it. I’m not sure whether they’re stupid or they think I’m stupid. They just don’t lie very well, but they lie continuously and it’s a substitution for actual reason and discussion.
So, my basic principle is I’m against arguing with people. I mean, as a lawyer, I argue with people for money, but then again … you got a judge, you got a jury, there’s people who are going to weigh evidence, apply rules, and you’re going to come to a conclusion.
You don’t get that with our leftist establishment. You get a conclusion and then they work backwards. So, they are impervious to reason, and for that reason, I don’t advocate arguing with them.
Now, argument and reason do have important roles to play, but mostly it’s for people who are not already committed. Most Americans aren’t like us, swimming in the cesspool of politics, and it’s going to be late September before they notice, “Oh, yeah, there’s an election coming up.”
And that’s not an unreasonable position, by the way, I’m not looking down on somebody who doesn’t do politics 24/7, in fact, I kind of envy them. And they should be able to, we should have a power structure that is generally competent, capable, and not corrupt enough to not pay attention to until about the last month or so before the election, or not huge attention to, but unfortunately we don’t.
But these people, though, are subject to reason, for instance, you can point out, “Well, the Black Lives Matter and the Antifa guys, they’re kind of toppling statues of Abe Lincoln, and that kind of shows that they’re maybe not being totally square with you and honest.”
And a normal person goes, “Well, I don’t have a Ph.D. in history. And actually, every once in a while I’d take a bong ripper out of my Camaro in the parking lot at high school before I went into history class, but I’m pretty sure I know two things about Lincoln, he had that cool stovepipe hat and he freed the slaves. So, I’m thinking maybe these guys aren’t straight with me.”
So, there is a place for argument left, but not with the garbage elite and the garbage who run our institutions, people in academia, people in the media, a lot of politicians, including some in our own party, and I propose to deal with them instead through the same way they deal with us, which is through the exercise of raw power. I don’t advocate lying about them, I advocate destroying them at the ballot box.
Bluey: Well, and with the facts, I mean, as your book lays out. Now, I agree with you, the media bears a significant amount of the criticism here, rightfully so. The anti-conservative bias is certainly nothing new, past Republican presidents have faced their share of bias themselves, but with President Trump it’s at a whole new level. Why do you think it is so much worse with him today?
Schlichter: Because he rejects the entire establishment. … If we had an establishment that wasn’t garbage, they would look on their unbroken track record of failure with a little humility.
I mean, rarely has America been governed, had its institution run by people who would be so justified in being humble, but they’re not. These are the least humble people, and they’re also the least accomplished.
I like to liken them to the third-generation heirs of Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller, right? They’re living off the trust fund of our culture. They didn’t build our culture, they didn’t struggle for it, they didn’t win World War II, they didn’t put a man on the moon or incidentally dismantle actual systemic racism. These are the guys who gave us Iraq, the Wall Street meltdown, and Grindr. These are not accomplished people.
We have an intellectual class that has boundless self-regard, but it also has an unbroken track record of failure, it’s literally done nothing, and we fired them essentially. We said, “No, we’re putting Trump in. We are going to reject the smartest woman in the world, the woman who is the ultimate embodiment of everything obnoxious about our establishment, and we’re going to put this wild man in from New York.”
I mean, how desperate did America have to be to vote for Donald Trump? If you would’ve said, “America’s going to put Donald Trump in as president,” 10 years ago to me back when I was still subscribing to The Weekly Standard, I would have said, “You’re on drugs. What are you taking?”
But we did because we were that desperate because the people who were running things were that incompetent, and not only incompetent, grasping at more and more power all the time, power over us.
I mean, if these guys were just taking a little off the top, but running things, kind of like the mob, I think we could live with it because if it was like the ’50s and you lived in a neighborhood that was run by the mob, your mom’s going to be able to walk to Mass and come back and she’s not going to get her purse snatched or beaten up by some scumbag because the mob’s going to take care of it, things are going to work. You don’t want to cross paths with them, and they’re obviously taking their share, … but you can live with it.
These guys want to make us better people. I don’t want to be made better people by people who are demonstrably worse than me.
Bluey: It’s a fair point. And I think one of the recent examples that you saw President Trump do and particularly take his fight directly to that establishment was his speeches around July Fourth, particularly the Mount Rushmore speech.
The Washington Post account of that speech began, and I quote, “President Trump’s unyielding push to preserve Confederate symbols and the legacy of white domination crystallized by his harsh denunciation of the racial justice movement Friday night at Mount Rushmore,” I could go on. There’s just one problem, that’s not the speech he delivered. It’s just totally dishonest.
Schlichter: Well, if they’re willing to lie about something that with two clicks on the Web you can double check, what are they not going to lie about? I mean, I see these polls showing Trump is down 15 points, incidentally, Dukakis was up 15 points over George H.W. Bush at—
Bluey: About this same time in July, right?
Schlichter: Yeah. But what’s going to stop them from lying about polls when polls are so opaque and obscure that you really have to look carefully to even start picking them apart without even getting to the point of assuming that the raw data that they’re using is even factual.
So, I mean, our media is so desperate to retain power that it has thrown away the only justification for itself, which is objective reporting. And this is emblematic of other institutions, we could talk about Hollywood or academia or the bureaucracy, but technology has changed things for the media. Let’s just focus on media.
Technology had already changed things, it’s already going through a huge trauma and the people trying to manage this trauma are, like I said, unaccomplished individuals with no competence or capability. They’re also corrupt.
So, the one thing that justifies their treatment with respect, as opposed to just a regular propagandist, they [are] like, “We are neutral truth-tellers who don’t care whose toes we step on, we just want to get to the facts and make sure that the powerful are accountable.”
Well, that’s great, and people like that, scrappy reporters with their little fedora hats and the little press badge and the hat, they deserve a level of respect because they’re doing a tough job. But they want that respect while also being propagandists for their friends.
And of course, there’s the incestuous relationship between these institutions, politics and academia and the media assuring that there isn’t a wall between them.
And look, I’m going to expect guys from CNN to light up their friends. They’re pals with these guys. They’re all a scam, and they’re all fighting to retake power back from Donald Trump, and they think they’re going to hold it forever—of course, none of them know anything about history.
I spent a lot of time listening to Roman history, Greek history, that sort of thing, Persian history, and history is full of people who think, “Yeah, I’m just going to end history and I’m going to establish myself as the permanent power forever. I’m just going to be really tough on people and no one will ever challenge my rule again,” and that never happens.
They have no idea of history, they have no idea of human nature, they lack wisdom, they certainly don’t have any kind of a moral sense other that delivered by a man-bun TA in a gender study seminar at Goucher College.
I mean, if you thought, “Maybe you guys could read the Bible, you might learn something from it, if not the religious part, at least the human nature part,” because I frankly haven’t read anything that better describes the conundrum of human nature than that.
They’re like, “No,” because they know everything, because history started when [Barack] Obama got elected and all those people from the past can’t change anything. It’s stunning arrogance of these people, it’s remarkable, especially when you consider how they are absolute losers.
Bluey: The late Andrew Breitbart had a profound impact on my life, Kurt. I considered him a mentor, someone who welcomed more voices and in many ways inspired—
Schlichter: Still on my phone. His phone number’s still on my cell.
Bluey: … us to create The Daily Signal, inspired you to be a contributor to Big Hollywood. What would Andrew say about what’s happening in America today?
Schlichter: I’d like to think that his critique would mirror mine because mine mirrors his. Andrew was a visionary and he understood the power of technology to disrupt things. And again, technology is one of the huge disruptors that was already, well before Trump, challenging the postwar establishment and the postwar structure, and really democratizing the exchange of information and ideas. No longer did you have three networks, no longer could you have gatekeepers.
And you can see how The Washington Post and New York Times, their columnists—other than Hugh Hewitt, who’s the only actual conservative on either of them—are constantly bemoaning the fact that there’s no gatekeeper, by which they mean, “We’re unable to set the agenda anymore. We don’t control what can be said.” And of course, by controlling what’s said, as [George] Orwell taught us, you control what can be thought.
Andrew understood the potential for technology to open up the Overton window and allow all sorts of troubling ideas to climb in. Not troubling to us, but troubling to the people who are fat, comfortable, and perfectly happy to continue failing as long as they kept power.
Bluey: Yeah, no, it’s so true. Kurt, I mentioned earlier your role as a stand-up comic, and your humor certainly comes through in the book, “The 21 Biggest Lies about Donald Trump (and You!).” Why is it important for conservatives and you in particular to make this part of your work?
Schlichter: Look, I make it no secret that I kind of despise the bow-tie conservative, the overly serious guy who can’t do a pushup and can’t crack a joke.
My feeling is, if you propose to be a conservative leader, I don’t want to hear a word out of your mouth until you’ve been in a fist fight, both on the winning side and the losing side.
Humor is an extremely powerful tool, and really, humor is the tool of the powerful, because if you can laugh at yourself, you are demonstrating invulnerability.
And it’s kind of fun because I’ll be on these things, and some are more serious, some are more humorous, and we’ll be making as many jokes about ourselves as anyone else, and we don’t care. When is the last time you heard a liberal make a joke about him, her, or theirself? You never do—
Schlichter: … because they aren’t confident. Exactly, they’re frightened. You look at the late-night comics, they never make jokes about liberals, and hell, they barely make jokes at all. Instead what they do—I remember Rick Wilson invited me to go with him to watch him on Bill Maher. I’m sitting out in the audience and I’m not a fan of Bill Maher, but I’m there, I’m listening to his a monologue, and the crowd’s not laughing, it’s clapping, and I’m thinking, “That’s something, but that’s not comedy.”
And comedy is subversive, comedy is rebellious. I just despise watching all these comics apologize for what they have to say. Comics should be subversive.
Look, the institution gets fat and flabby if it’s not constantly getting in fist fights. I want an establishment that doesn’t have it easy, I want an establishment that appreciates what it has because it had to help build it, not that it just gets handed out as part of its cultural inheritance, which is what we have.
Bluey: When I think of a leader who gets in fist fights, certainly President Trump comes to mind. You write in the book about some of his virtues, you say realism, courage, common sense, and what you describe as an unapologetic determination to win conservative victories.
Bluey: Looking back at the first term, what stands out to you as his greatest achievement or achievements?
Schlichter: I think his work on the economy was magnificent. He basically did what we’d all been saying, which is cut regulations, cut taxes, unleash the American people, and as soon as he did, boy, unemployment goes down to 3.5[%]. Every American had opportunity they didn’t have before. And of course, the elite hated it because they don’t care about prosperity, they care about control.
I also am very happy about his foreign policy in which he doesn’t go looking for wars that really don’t serve an important purpose.
I served 27 years as an Army officer, retired a colonel, I was active in reserve, I deployed to Desert Storm, I deployed to Kosovo after 9/11. So, when I think of American warfare—I’m also a graduated in the Army War College, probably their favorite graduate—I think of it as, if I can’t go to Omaha and explain to the mother of a paratrooper out of the 82nd why her son got killed in whatever place and why it was important to the country that that happened, then maybe we shouldn’t be there.
I am not a dove, I’m a hawk, but I’m a Jacksonian hawk. I believe we fight when we need to fight. And if we’re going to fight, we do it to win. And if you don’t have those qualifications, then there are other elements of national power, including diplomacy, information, and economics that you can leverage, but don’t ask us to spend the blood of our young people if you don’t think it’s worth winning.
Bluey: Well, it’s true. I mean, it’s very much an issue, I think, on the hearts and minds of a lot of Americans and one of the reasons that they’ve come to appreciate Donald Trump. Kurt, you mentioned your service to our country, thank you for that, you’re—
Schlichter: I was a colonel, I didn’t do s—.
Bluey: Well, you’ve deployed overseas, but you also have had experience right here at home with the Los Angeles riots, the Northridge earthquake. Could you share with us, our listeners, about how those experiences with the military shaped your own life and your own thinking?
Schlichter: Well, those were very interesting, both of them, and they both happened … Riots in April of ’92, I believe the earthquake was January of ’94, and I was with what was called 3rd Battalion, 160th Infantry, and that’s located in Inglewood, that is in South-Central, essentially South-Central Los Angeles.
And look, I’m a middle-class kid from the suburbs of San Francisco, this was not my milieu, but that’s where I was and that’s where my troops largely came from.
So, I’m this guy who has no experience in the inner city and I’m thrust into it in riots, and then later in the earthquakes, and what I saw really changed a lot of things in my mind. We were hugged by the residents of South-Central because by coming in there we cleared out the bad guys and kids could play in the parks, and people were like, “We couldn’t do that before.” And I still see that today, they can’t do that, but we had the power to do it.
And then during the earthquake, I remember we went out to an area where they had set up a relief area, but it wasn’t the government that did it, local government, the Democrats were spending all their time with the rich areas. This was poor people, a lot of them illegal aliens, and the Mexican radio station that played all Mexican corridos and other music, it was organizing relief for these guys, and I’m sitting here going, “Well, these are the guys who need the help, you don’t need it in Beverly Hills, yet the only people here are soldiers and these radio folks.”
Now, I love that Americans, including first-generation Americans, worked together to help each other, I like to see that and we need more of it, but it really gave me an understanding of the total contempt that our inner-city Democrat governments have for their own people, and I’m still seeing it today.
For instance, Los Angeles Unified School District’s absolutely refusing to open up, it’s condemning hundreds of thousands of kids to a lost year of education, and they don’t care because they’ve got to suck up to the teachers’ union.
And these experiences down there, I know that it’s not exciting, it’s not shooting and blowing stuff up, but these are experiences that just reinforced what I believe as a conservative to the extent that government should act, it should act on behalf of all citizens, not just the favored few, but that’s what happens.
Bluey: You’re absolutely right. And it’s not just the decisions on reopening schools, I mean, it’s the riots that are playing out and destroying many of these neighborhoods and the refusal of the local leaders to step up and do anything, which is why I think you’re seeing President Trump bring in, whether it’s Department of Homeland Security personnel or others who are trying to restore some law and order in these places. And it’s sad that it really needs to come from the federal level. It should be a local decision. But I think that their failure to act has led us down this path.
Schlichter: Well, look, the federal government has an indisputable—except by stupid people in the media who may actually even believe that the federal government has no right to go in and enforce federal law. But I don’t support Trump mobilizing the Army and sending it in to clear out Portland or Seattle, I believe in letting them stew in their own filth, but you don’t get to attack a courthouse.
And I know that the Democrats are outraged that Donald Trump’s not rolling over. I think he should send more forces in, and I love the idea of charging these guys of federal crimes because then the sorrow spot DAs can’t release them. And it becomes a lot less fun to a live-action role-play revolutionary when suddenly you figure out the U.S. attorney is looking to put you away for five years for crossing a state line to set fire to a building, and I’d like to see more of that.
These people are scumbags. These people are evil. There aren’t that many of them. Remember, this is a giant information operation. If you look at the mass of the United States, it’s probably five football fields full of riots right now, but you would think the whole country’s on fire. …
From my palatial corner office I’m looking out the whole valley where Los Angeles is, the whole basin, and I don’t see any flames or fires, it’s just not happening. It’s designed to convince us that we are out of control, that we can’t be protected, and that, “Gosh, you just have to vote for that creepy, old weirdo who lives in a basement, and then everything will calm down. We’ll be good if you do that.” And I like Trump pushing back on that.
Bluey: Well, thank you for helping to put it in perspective too. Again, we’re talking to Kurt Schlichter, and his book is called “The 21 Biggest Lies About Donald Trump (and You!).”
Kurt, we appreciate you bringing your trial lawyer nature and your comic humor to the book, it’s a tremendous read. It’s available on Amazon or wherever books are sold. We’ll also make sure we leave a link in the show notes. Any closing words, though, or places that people can follow your work you want to leave them with?
Schlichter: Oh, yeah. I’m a senior columnist over at Townhall, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, check out my stuff. Today it’s “Brace for the Backlash.” And also follow me on Twitter, @KurtSchlichter.
Bluey: Kurt, thanks so much for being with The Daily Signal Podcast. Best wishes as you continue to fight the good fight and bring common sense to Americans. We appreciate it.
Schlichter: Thank you very much.
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