A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW
I think they elected him because they thought he’d be someone they could manipulate. But Bush genuinely feels like he was elected to govern. -- Jules Carlysle, Author of DUMBASS
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When we came across the title "Dumbass" with a creepy photograph of George W. Bush on the cover, we knew that we had to investigate further. What we discovered was probably the best presentation of the collected idiocy of our president, a man of such staggering arrrested development that even as we speak his father's royal court advisors are gathering to bail junior out of his mega-fiasco in Iraq.
It's the story of George's life: fail and daddy's buddies will save your dumbass.
We talked with the author and found out that she lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and is recovering from a head injury. Due to some sort of divine justice, her research on Bush's inane, hypocritical, and incomprehensible utterances helped her to recover her own cognitive abilities.
Yes, there's quite a story behind "Dumbass," indeed.
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BuzzFlash: The title of your book is kind of dramatic. Most people won’t be so bold as to simply state the true feeling of many people, which is that the President of the United States is a dumbass. How did you come to pick the title?
Jules Carlysle: I don’t even remember really deciding to do the book. I was working on something else, and I came across these George W. quotes, and I thought: Well, I’m just going to set these aside, because this is pretty interesting. By the end of that weekend, I had something like 8,000 quotes and thousands of pages on my computer of just stupid George W. Bush stuff. I was infuriated by the entire thing -- all this evidence of nonsense. I feel like I don’t have anything to lose by speaking the truth. I’m Canadian, and, also, what are you going to take away from me at this point in my life?
BuzzFlash: You have a fascinating personal story, which is described on your website, JulesCarlysle.com. As you say there, you suddenly had a lot of time on your hands since you experienced a head injury. How exactly did that happen? We recall you writing that you felt your IQ oozing out of your head.
Jules Carlysle: I was leaving my office on a Sunday afternoon in January in Thunder Bay, and I just slipped. We’ve got about four stairs there. It’s a brick building. I put one foot down, and it came out from underneath me, so I put the other foot down, and it came out from underneath me. I was in midair, and I thought my back was going to hit the cement stairs, and that’s what I was scared of. But my head hit the wall first and sort of diverted me.
I was unconscious in the snow for about three hours until a couple of homeless guys found me-- I’ve assumed -- because I opened my eyes and thought: Why is this scary man about to kiss me? -- because my face was in his hands. And that was it.
BuzzFlash: How long were you hospitalized?
Jules Carlysle: I wasn’t. We’ve got a very critical shortage of doctors up here -- about forty or fifty thousand people don’t have a primary care physician. The very weekend that I had my accident, they were moving patients over to the big hospital where they took me, and there was a bed shortage. Overall, I wound up with six visits to the hospital, but no admittance.
The first time, they brought me in by ambulance. One time I wandered over to the hospital on my own. And, then, I fell asleep outside my brother’s, and someone called the hospital again and they took me back again. They checked me over and drove me home, because there was really no place to keep me anyway.
BuzzFlash: You say that you wrote this book, in many ways, as therapy. There was a certain irony that in researching this man that you call a dumbass, that by looking through his idiotic statements, you managed to recover a lot of your cognitive ability.
Jules Carlysle: Yes. Right after the accident, I wasn’t getting better. I did have a bit of contact with doctors and with social workers and those sorts of people. But there really wasn’t anything that they could do for me. They said, you’ve just got to learn to adjust to your new limitations. My limitations were, I couldn’t read, which was really frustrating. By the time I got to the middle of a sentence, I’d forget what the first words of the sentence were. So it was just -- what do you call it? -- gobbledygook. I couldn’t hang onto it long enough to comprehend it.
And, of course, short-term memory was an issue. I was missing large chunks of time. So, I really don’t know why I decided to do the book, but I wasn’t having any sort of cognitive rehabilitation therapy.
I was incredibly bored. I would sit down at the computer for hours and hours and hours at a stretch -- eighteen hours at a stretch, just on the computer, researching. When I started to pull out quotes, there was a lot of memory work involved. I’d have to be looking at the screen, and go to another screen, and remember what I was doing when I got there. It was very tedious. But by the end of it -- ten months of that -- I was better.
BuzzFlash: We have this ironic situation that the man who responded to 9/11 by reading My Pet Goat was responsible for restoring your mental capacity.
Jules Carlysle: Yes. I told a friend about my accident and about the work I was doing. She lives far away, but she was concerned about me. She had done a lot of research about what sort of therapy I should be doing, and she said that’s what they would have had me doing in therapy. They would have had me doing reading and memory work, and really basic cognitive stuff, and just repetition.
BuzzFlash: You also had as motivation the fact that, at the time, most of this went unreported in the media.
Jules Carlysle: Yes.
BuzzFlash: In the last month or so, the American media has become a little more forthcoming in terms of actually reporting what Bush says rather than covering it up. But you were asking, how could anyone who could say things so basically stupid become the President of the United States?
Jules Carlysle: It was infuriating. I had owned a great big company, and I couldn’t get a job now. I didn’t qualify for any of Canada’s great social programs, so we were really suffering. I was looking for just any kind of work I could get my hands on, but I was unemployable.
Yet I was still not nearly as stupid as Bush. And they elected him President. It just blows my mind. I don’t know how that happens.
BuzzFlash: This is an enormous book. If you sold this by the pound, you’d be a millionaire.
Jules Carlysle: You know what? That’s not all there is. There’s only fourteen hundred quotes in there. I’ve got 4,000 more that I kept in the archives.
BuzzFlash: You also intersperse the Bush quotes with quotations from other people highlighting his idiocy. As we have often said on BuzzFlash, if he was a black American Democrat, he would have been impeached or lynched back in 2001.
Jules Carlysle: Is the Republican machine just that much more powerful? I don’t understand how they could impeach Clinton but not Bush. If you make that suggestion, there are gasps.
BuzzFlash: It doesn’t make any sense, as your book points out. He just says things, and the press reports whatever the official White House news release is, not what he actually said, which often makes the White House policy incomprehensible. He says things that literally are baffling.
Jules Carlysle: It’s supposed to be funny. I mean, I found him funny in small doses. But when you read it cover to cover, it’s frightening. I just can’t imagine. I say in the Afterword, and I actually believe this, I think they elected him because they thought he’d be someone they could manipulate. But Bush genuinely feels like he was elected to govern.
I can’t imagine that a group like the Republican Party would actually look at him and say, yeah, he’s our leader. I had a friend who was kind of dumb, and he’s now a member of Parliament because his handlers fully acknowledge behind his back that they wanted someone they could feed their ideology to -- that they could get the stuff done that they wanted to get done, and they were looking for someone malleable. I kind of look at Bush that way -- that he really does think that God wants him to be President, and that he’s the decider.
BuzzFlash: Mark Crispin Miller, a regular commentator on BuzzFlash, has talked about Bush’s dysfunctional language. He says at times Bush does make sense, when there’s something that he actually feels comfortable with, like executions. He will make sense and say, I will execute this person no matter what anyone thinks, because it’s the right thing to do. And it’s a relatively straightforward declarative sentence. But when it’s anything to do with the image that the handlers try to make him out to be, particularly as a populist and sort of a common man, he doesn’t make any sense.
One of the famous quotes that we recall Mark Crispin Miller citing was about, "I know how hard it is to put food on your family." This is because he really doesn’t have any experience of having to provide for his family. People have always provided for him. He was a spoiled rich kid, and his father was always bailing him out of business troubles.
Jules Carlysle: I understand that he was very good at being the baseball owner.
BuzzFlash: Even there, he was the front man. In the United States, there’s this tradition of hiring celebrities to be greeters. Joe Lewis, the great boxer, became a greeter at a Las Vegas casino. Bush was sort of the greeter for the Texas Rangers. He was hired as the general manager, but he spent most of his time in his box seat signing baseballs for people while someone else ran the team. Then they gave him a disproportionate share of the profits. He bought in with money that his father’s friends had lent him, and also with part of the Harken Energy settlement, which is disputed as to whether or not he had insider knowledge. He was there sort of just as a name. His biggest accomplishment was trading Sammy Sosa to the Chicago Cubs, so he failed there, too.
Jules Carlysle: Yes, but he should do that. He apparently was very happy doing that. So let him go do that. Leave the politicking to real people with brains.
There’s a woman here in Thunder Bay who won’t speak to me because of my book. She loves George W. Bush. I tried to understand for a while. I could imagine him being my neighbor down the road, walking up and sitting down at the kitchen table, and having a beer with the gang, and playing cards. That’s not a president; that’s a neighbor. That’s a friend. I want a president to be so much more than me. I want him to be brilliant and larger than life, and I want him to be able to stand up in history and account for something. I want to look up to him. I don’t want him to sit at my table and have a beer. I don’t understand why the public wouldn’t want that, too.
BuzzFlash: That’s sort of a manufactured image, because he’s really a wealthy kid, and he’s not a person of the common man. But in any case, it’s kind of fascinating to us that, as a Canadian, you wrote this book. We’ve seen many collections of quotations by Bush. Yours is the most fascinating because of the way it’s grouped, and how the other quotations and commentary are interspersed in it. And, as you say, the sheer volume of idiocy in here is just shocking. He is barely a viable, cognitive human being.
It’s become acceptable in the United States to sort of dismiss the notion that Bush is stupid. Yet it clearly seems that we have a co-presidency. Rove is the domestic president, and Cheney is the foreign policy president. Bush is merely the puppet out there.
Jules Carlysle: Yes.
BuzzFlash: I personally don’t subscribe to the theory that he’s very sharp at anything, including politics. It’s all done for him. It’s just like being Prince Charles. You have all these people who handle you and handle things for you, and you just have to go out and make formal statements. Bush is fine with the formal statements, but as soon as he freelances, he can barely say an intelligible sentence.
Jules Carlysle: I know.
BuzzFlash: We have many Canadian readers at BuzzFlash -- many who send us condolences. They also worry that Canada is like the small house that’s next to the big tree that is leaning over and looks like it may fall on the small house any day.
Jules Carlysle: I used to worry about that, but I don’t have that concern anymore. I guess I’ve always felt like an honorary American. I’m not quite sure what my affection is based on, but I have it. And my son and I will refer to "our president" -- we take some ownership of what’s happening in the States. From a spectator point of view, politics in your country is a blood sport, and it’s not in Canada.
BuzzFlash: I recall, long ago, talking to a woman who was the corporate vice president for a company in Canada. She said, the cliché up here in Canada is that America is about the Declaration of Independence. We in Canada emphasize peace, order and good government. In the United States, you emphasize life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It’s just a different emphasis.
Jules Carlysle: I have never thought of it that way. It is interesting. If you look at the people that are influencing what’s going on politically in the U.S. -- the media pundits and such -- people are gearing for fights. They want the blood spilled. The most extreme voices are the ones that get heard. And it’s entertainment, instead of good government. Up here in Thunder Bay, I’ve got these really good people that work locally, and I can just trust them to govern. Occasionally, something comes up, like the sponsorship scandal, and you get pissed off about it.
BuzzFlash: Could you explain that sponsorship scandal?
Jules Carlysle: Years ago, when Quebec was planning on separating, they held a referendum to decide whether or not they were going to go for sovereignty. The liberal government apparently set aside a huge amount of money to buy pro-unity advertising in Quebec. They sent that money to liberal, friendly advertising companies. It was all cronyism, apparently. There are allegations of bags of cash being passed between these guys at diners.
Quebec was really pissed off about the sponsorship scandal and I think: Why? How did it affect you? Why are you insulted? They were spending hundreds of millions of dollars to convince you to stay as part of the country, but this doesn’t take anything out of your mouths specifically. But anyway, it was a huge deal, and they had a trial and a couple of people are in jail now from the Liberal Party.
BuzzFlash: And you’re saying that’s unusual.
Jules Carlysle: It’s very unusual. There are very few big scandals up here.
BuzzFlash: As background for our American readers, you have a conservative government now -- is that correct?
Jules Carlysle: We do.
BuzzFlash: How did that happen, and what are the implications of that?
Jules Carlysle: We’ve been liberal for years and years. But when the sponsorship allegations came to light, our liberal prime minister Martin said that after the inquiry, he would call general elections. Because people were so angry at the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party got in, but they have a minority government, which is even trickier actually, because it’s not a two-party system.
BuzzFlash: The model is the British Parliament, not the American government. But here you have this enormous colossus to your south that’s a superpower that wields its military might. I think you said on your website that when America sneezes, Canada says gesundheit. Is there just a feeling like, how can this guy be President of the United States?
Jules Carlysle: Yes. We’re watching with our mouths hanging open with shock at what’s happening in the States. But with the exception of me and a handful of other people -- Canadians are not obsessed about the U.S. Canada really is a very different country, and very comfortable in our skin.
Tucker Carlson said that Canada’s like a stalker -- or like your retarded cousin that you see only at Christmas. But we’re not. We didn’t go with you to Vietnam. We stood up and said it was not what we do. And we didn’t go with you to Iraq. But when the disasters happen, we’re right there. We’re sending the ships to New Orleans. And we’re in Afghanistan, heading up the newer mission of the rebuilding. We’re here. We’re watching. But we don’t feel like you’re going to roll over one night and crush us in our sleep.
You’re our largest trading partner, but we’re yours, too. When people get lippy from the States, I want to say, hey, guess what? We’ve got oil and you don’t. You want to have an embargo against Canada? Knock yourself out. Go ask Hugo Chavez for oil. I know, I’m not very nice. But it really ticks me off. We have such a good economy right now. I think this is our ninth year in a row with a multi-billion-dollar budget surplus. We’re going to be the first G7 nation with zero debt. All that and universal healthcare, too -- how cool is that?
BuzzFlash: You did say it’s hard to get a doctor. And you had to recover from serious traumatic brain injury by yourself.
Jules Carlysle: Thunder Bay is really far removed from anything. We’re about eight hours in any direction from a major city. Thunder Bay is the largest center up here, and we’ve got about fifty remote communities around us. 38 of them don’t have any roads. So it’s a very hard place to get people to want to come and stay.
BuzzFlash: Well, you’re there. Why are you there?
Jules Carlysle: They asked me nicely. I grew up here. I left. My friend’s father was here. I got an offer to come up and work at the technology centers, which was basically an economic development tool, and I had some expertise there. I came up to help them develop their skilled labor force and address some of their economic development issues. So that’s why I’m here.
BuzzFlash: Let’s get back to this really wonderful book. Did you at some point become numbed? Didn’t you want to say, I can’t handle this anymore?
Jules Carlysle: I’m surprised that I didn’t, although I worried after it came out. It was even bigger when it first came out, and I have cut it down considerably since the first printing. I worried that it wasn’t going to be interesting for people -- that maybe the ones I chose to keep, I should have left out, or there was something better that should have gone in. The whole thing didn’t take shape for me until I decided to put in those other quotes to go with Bush's. That’s what really made it jell.
Sometimes it would make me sick -- I would literally get a pain in my stomach. I’d phone a friend and say, I just can’t understand how this happened. I can’t understand how they let this happen.
BuzzFlash: When you look at this now in terms of the mid-term elections, there does seem, at least in the American press, to be some realism slipping into the press which we haven’t seen in about six years about Iraq, about Bush’s capabilities, about the Foley scandal and so forth. Are you hopeful that Americans may be coming to their senses somewhat?
Jules Carlysle: I’m hopeful, but I am realistically looking to see whether a change will happen. Let’s look at the Foley cover-up, and the fact that people came out after it trying to blame Bill Clinton and the Democrats. That people would listen to that, and pick up on that, and then start parroting that back -- argh! It’s so irresponsible, and people seem to be so easily sucked in -- their brains have shut off. I don’t know if I have much hope that things are going to turn the way they need to.
BuzzFlash: Do you get Fox News in Canada?
Jules Carlysle: I do -- despite what your O’Reilly says -- I was watching him on Fox News when he said that Fox News wasn’t allowed in Canada.
BuzzFlash: It’s available through cable, basically?
Jules Carlysle: Yes, everything is cable up here.
BuzzFlash: You’re working now on another book?
Jules Carlysle: I’ve been working on this Bill O’Reilly book for some time. I don’t know if I’m going to finish it. I feel my passion for the subject kind of has drained. He is insignificant. When he was new news to me, he drove me nuts. But now, I’m not all that worried about him. He is insidious.
I’ve got all the material -- 600 pages worth of material on him -- but there’s been a gap in how to make it interesting, like the problem I had at one point with the Dumbass book. With Bill O’Reilly, you have to know what you’re listening for, because he can talk. He’s really good. But there’s an awful lot of explaining needed to explain what’s wrong with Bill O’Reilly.
BuzzFlash: Jules, thank you so much. Dumbass is a wonderful book, and we’re proud to sell it. We’ll be talking with you in the future.
Jules Carlysle: Okay, thanks.
BuzzFlash Interview conducted by Mark Karlin.
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DUMBASS (Paperback), by Jules Carlysle, a BuzzFlsh Premium.
A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW