Having worked with Tunny for nine years at FatDumbHappy, I knew that his management style was unique. But I also knew that the path to getting ahead at FDH was pretty straight forward—just always agree with Tunny. Fast-forward to today and I was very interested in seeing how Tunny would lead his team of the bestest people he managed to hire and keep on the payroll.
A Unique Management Style from a Unique Grand Poobah
At a large private company like FatDumbHappy, there was not much transparency and visibility into how Tunny worked with his people. His “real life” TV show, The Gofer, gave only small glimpses into how he motivated and fired people. Even the campaign didn’t provide the Camerian public much insight, because it was run by professionals who were continually trying to tell Tunny where to be, what to say, and how to act. But during his transition into the Beige Palace, many of the quirks in Tunny’s management style became more visible.
Whether you like him or not, I think everyone would agree that there has never been a Grand Poobah like Tunny! Part of what makes him unique is an extremely different management style that is unlike that of any other Grand Poobahs in recorded history.
Thumbing His Nose at Etiquette and Tradition
As an outsider to the political world, Tunny always liked to stick it to the mainstream and thumb his nose at accepted practices and expected etiquette for Grand Poobahs.
It started during the campaign when he refused to release his college transcripts. Every prior candidate had done so, and Tunny’s refusal led everyone to ask why. Although Tunny always insisted that he had earned excellent grades in college, quite a few people speculated that poor grades were Tunny’s reason for breaking from the Grand Poobah campaign tradition. He just wasn’t as academically successful as he would like the world to believe. In fact, he might well have spent all four years in college consuming soft drinks and hamburgers and trying to tickle women.
As Grand Poobah, another tradition that Tunny pooh-poohed was the daily press briefings. This obviously affected my job. Tunny thought that since he did such a great job twerping his every little thought online, there wasn’t any need for a press secretary to feed chum to the sharks of the press pool every afternoon at 2 p.m. But, fortunately for me, there was always plenty of damage control work to fill my days.
Tunny also didn’t go along with other Grand Poobah traditions such as press club dinners, honoring Protectors (it was raining one Protector’s Day, so he skipped the ceremony, not wanting his toupee to frizz), and not jumping the gun on significant announcements that could affect the stock market. One day in May of 2018, Tunny prereleased a very positive jobs report via Twerper. Stock traders on Drall Lane jumped all over this “leak” and probably made a lot of money for Tunny’s top 1 percent-er buddies.
Instead, Tunny liked to start his own traditions, such as feeding the ducks in the Beige Palace pond on Tuesdays, watching television marathons on Thursdays, and writing notes to his best buddy, Plaidimyhr Shuutin, on Sundays. He also played a lot of croquet on any day that he could arrange a round outside of the public eye.
The Drumps were the only First Poobah Family in modern times not to have a pet. “You know, Laira,” he said to me one day as he finished a cheesesteak before a press briefing, “there is no way in creation that I will let myself be upstaged by a cute little puppy.” By the time the Drumps moved into the Beige Palace, their children were all older than those of most predecessors. That fact helped soften the blow to a Camerian public that was used to having a First Pet. Sometimes, I felt sad that no little cocker spaniel would be roaming the marble corridors of the Beige Palace and peeing in the Grand Poobah’s bedroom slippers. But that’s Tunny for you.
One more serious and long-standing tradition/expectation was that sitting Grand Poobahs would carefully preserve all of their working documents, briefing notes, etc., for posterity and their future inclusion in the Grand Poobah Library. Tunny was either unaware of this precedent or just didn’t know how to write. He also routinely ripped up many papers that should have been saved. The chief wrangler specifically assigned some aides the time-consuming task of taping the pages back together. What a job!
Sometimes, Tunny liked what he liked and didn’t want to make changes. Tunny fell in love with his Krugle smart speaker. Even after his aides warned that the smart speaker was recording all of his ridiculous questions, he refused to give it up. He continued to use the device even after it was determined that foreign spies were listening to his questions. Even though the spies probably became very bored quite quickly, Tunny thought it was fun to “live on the edge,” adding a little risk to his life. As he made obvious in this twerp, Tunny was a little frustrated with how slow his beloved Krugle smart speaker learned:
Toxic Work Environment / Infighting
In all my months at the Beige Palace, I was never sure whether Tunny was consciously adhering to a particular management style or just winging it all the time and trying to get his way by sheer force of his charismatic personality (or blatant intimidation, if his charms weren’t sufficient).
Tunny was at his best in a very chaotic environment. He demanded loyalty the way he demanded candy bars and could not tolerate dissent, even if it was positioned as constructive criticism or playing devil’s advocate. Rather than changing his management style at all, Tunny was willing to suffer inordinate amounts of leadership turnover from people who would rather not operate in such a strange environment.
Tunny got a real kick out of pitting people against each other. He saw this as the survival of the most resilient. It also created a very toxic work environment in the Beige Palace and among the members of his Executive Team. To make matters worse, Tunny carried a love of nepotism into his inner circle. Skylanka and Larred took on roles within the administration that, unfortunately, cast a spotlight on their lack of government experience and pissed off some of the people whose help they at least pretended to solicit. Tunny’s son, Tunnald Drump Jr., had a significant role in the campaign but never really found a solid niche within the Beige Palace. He was mostly relegated to finding new FDH hamburger franchise locations.
Since Tunny didn’t really read the materials provided to him or listen very well to presentations, the most vocal person in the room often carried the day on any given issue. This was extremely frustrating to the experienced people in his administration who were quite capable of leveraging their teams to research hot-button issues and make clear recommendations to the Grand Poobah.
First Full Executive Team Meeting
Due to a LARGE number of Upper Body confirmation issues, Tunny didn’t hold his first full Executive Team meeting until July of 2017, a full six months after Inauguration Day. Here’s a cleaned-up transcript from Tunny’s first full Executive Team meeting:
“Thank you all for being here today. As you know, this is our first full Executive Team meeting, due to resistance from those f*ing Donkey Party a*holes. Some of you had pretty rough confirmation hearings. I appreciate you sticking it out. None of us is in this for the money. You could all be making a lot more money in your previous positions. Maybe your decision to help your country will pay off with lucrative consulting contracts when you’re done here. How’s that sound?”
Lon Shelly, Chief Wrangler:
“Sounds great to me. But in the meantime, we are proud to be working with you, Mr. Grand Poobah, to Make Our Country YUUUGE Again. You have been doing great things for the past six months, and I look forward to helping make you the best Grand Poobah ever!”
*Round of applause*
“You are too kind, Lon. But you are right about the first six months in office. It started with the largest Inauguration Day crowd ever and has only gone uphill from there. We have accomplished so much together that I kind of forget all that we have been doing. I know we are trying to kill that goddamn Moblamahcare. Why won’t it just die? And we are trying to make ourselves and our friends a lot richer through a wealth reallocation plan. Hopefully, we can ram that through before Christmas. Hey, Lex! Give us an update about crazy leaders around the world.”
Lex Gilbertsun, Secretary of Foreign Relations:
“Sure thing, Mr. Grand Poobah. Let me add my praise, too. You have captured the world’s attention, and we are ready to do great things if we want to. I know you talked about Cameria Above All during the campaign. While I think that most of us support the concept, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to build up Cameria’s reputation around the world.
“Let me start with a quick overview of the hot spots we are monitoring. As you know, Luni from West Boreea keeps popping up and spouting off about being able to hit the Camerian mainland with his latest missiles. My best analysts are skeptical, but we do need to keep an eye on Luni.”
“I know the West Boreea leader is loony, but why don’t we call him by his real name?”
“Ahhh, Mr. Grand Poobah, that is his real name. West Boreea’s Leader for Life is Sim Hong Luni. We call him Luni for short.”
“Now I remember. I kind of like ‘Rocket Boy’ better. What’s going on in Abuc? Can we just take out their El Grande Jefe? I have never trusted that country, ever since they stopped rolling cigars by hand and started using f*ing machines. Not the same quality, and it is still way too hard to get my hands on enough for Charco Grande, as well as my suites at Drump Hamburger Hotels around the world. A regime change might be the best solution.”
“That would be very problematic, as well as quite illegal. We could certainly reopen the dialogue started by Moblamah’s team. Abuc leaders appeared to be pretty interested in improving bilateral relations with Cameria.”
“Screw the commies. They still think we’re Satan. Let’s just figure out the cigar situation. What about Twenezhaela? Can we bump anyone off to help speed up their progress toward democracy? They have lots of oil. They should be rolling in dough.”
“Our sanctions might have a little to do with the terrible economy. We might want to consider—”
“I’m bored. What’s happening in the world of massive deregulation?”
Mott Strewitt, Secretary, Earth Needs a Hand Organization:
“Everything is going great, Sir. Your decree that ten old regulations must be repealed for every new regulation has really put a damper on pesky new regulations. Even though you and I don’t believe in this Global Weirdness crap that is all the rage lately, we need to look like we are doing something. We have made excellent progress toward requiring only the barest and most minimal reductions in helium gas production. All of your friends who own power plants and big industrial factories should be delighted.”
“Keep up the good work on behalf of our friends. What about you, Reeven? How’s the Depository looking these days? Why can’t you keep that a*hole head of the National Prezerve from raising interest rates? He’s killing me.”
Reeven Stalluchyn, Secretary of the Depository:
“I certainly agree with you that rising interest rates threaten to derail the wonderful recovery from the 2008 Great Recession and make it more expensive for consumers to buy houses and for businesses to borrow money. The Moblamah policies are working great, and I wouldn’t want interest rates to cause problems.”
“I believe I have warned all of you before. We DO NOT say anything nice about any policies or actions taken by the Moblamah Administration! Period! We only praise anything good that has been put in place by the Drump Administration. Got it?”
“My bad, Mr. Grand Poobah. It won’t happen again. I hate to be the one to point this out, Sir, but you, as Grand Poobah, do not have control over what the National Prezerve does with interest rates or any other fiscal policies. It’s part of the ‘mutual mistrust’ system put in place by The Agreement and clarified by Grand Poobah Gradison many, many years ago. So, The Prez is supposed to operate independently of the Leader Branch. You can meet with Gannett Mellen, but you are not supposed to try to influence Prez policy in private or publicly via twerps or by any other means.”
“Why the hell not? I am the Grand Poobah, and they are not. This pesky separation of powers business has been pissing me off for some time. It is an old-fashioned idea. I just don’t see why a great, wonderful Leader Branch like we have today needs to be held back by an inferior Rules Branch or Laws Branch. Everything would run so much more smoothly if we just combined all those functions under the Leader Branch. Who would like to look into that and report back at our next Executive Team meeting? Kind of like a fun extracurricular project! Earn some brownie points.”
Zyan Kinke, Secretary of the Bureau of Land, Trees, and Minerals:
“That’s not really my area of expertise, Mr. Grand Poobah. But I would like to bring a couple of items to your attention. Per your wishes, we are making excellent progress toward clearing all trees from coastal waters so that hotels and resorts can have unobstructed views of the beautiful oceans and the Inland Sea. This is already starting to boost tourism, just as you predicted!
“We are also making great progress toward reducing the size of national parks in order to build airports on what used to be park land. As you so correctly pointed out, many of our best parks are very remote and hard to access. Twenty or thirty new airports right next to our great parks should certainly make them much more accessible to all Camerians. We have also identified great locations for beautiful new FatDumbHappy franchises right next to the entrance to each park. You should be very pleased!”
“Good work, Zyan! OK, let’s wrap up with brief comments from our illustrious Focused Information Group. What’s the latest gossip picked up by FIG?”
Strike Lonjayho, Director, Focused Information Group (FIG):
“Thank you, Mr. Grand Poobah. I do not want to sound like a broken record, but we keep collecting more and more evidence that Aissur did, indeed, ‘assist’ with the 2016 National Cartoon Debate and plans to do so again if we have another cartoon debate in 2020. The Cruller Probe is starting to identify specific Aissurian citizens involved in these efforts. Unfortunately, most of them are in Aissur, so . . .”
“Stop! Stop! Stop! I just don’t want to hear this. My good buddy Plaidimyhr Shuutin has assured me, repeatedly, that there was no Aissurian assistance in the National Cartoon Debate. In the Grand Poobah election, I won fair and square over that anti-deplorable, confoundable Jillary Glynnton. So let’s not waste any more of our valuable time talking about something that just did not happen. Is everyone in the clown car with me?
“I am worn out. I need some executive time. This was fun. Let’s try to have another Executive Team meeting in about six months. See ya later.”
(end of first Executive Team meeting)
Scathing Commentary on Tunny’s Management Style
Tunny’s unique management style generated a lot of comments from within and from outside of his administration. I would hear whispers of these comments in the hallways of the Beige Palace and in news reports, and I’d have to beat them back like yellow jackets.
Lex Gilbertsun, Tunny’s secretary of Foreign Relations, was overheard saying that Tunny was “scattered,” “doesn’t prepare for any meeting,” and is “always trying to push legal boundaries.” He complained that Tunny continuously needed to be told that he couldn’t do illegal things. When Tunny found out that Gilbertsun had called him an idiot, he lashed out that Gilbertsun was “dumber than a toxic waste dump,” calling him “a sloth among sloths.” I was amazed that Gilbertsun lasted as long as he did. Although he was subjected to a fairly constant barrage of belittling comments, Gilbertsun wasn’t fired until eight months after his grumbling hit the media. Part of the holdup in getting rid of Gilbertsun was that Tunny was having an extremely difficult time finding competent people who wanted the job.
Hykul Grolff, a highly acclaimed author who was given free rein within the Beige Palace, as well as significant access to Tunny, came out with some pretty scathing comments in his book on the Drump Administration. He called Tunny “one of the least trustworthy people I have ever met.” He claimed that all of the people closest to Tunny had grave concerns about his brainpower and suitability as Grand Poobah. The likelihood of Tunny being removed from office was a daily topic of discussion. I never heard the talk firsthand, but I knew that invoking the 227th Amendment to The Agreement, which discusses the justifications and procedures for removing a Grand Poobah from office, was discussed frequently behind closed doors.
It is interesting that Hykul Grolff mentioned internal discussions about the 227th Amendment. In early 2018, a petition signed by over seventy-five thousand mental health professionals expressed their firm belief that Tunny had been showing signs of mental illness severe enough to make it impossible for him to competently carry on as Grand Poobah of Cameria.
Ames Homey, the NDS director that Tunny inherited from the Moblamah Administration and eventually fired, appeared to enjoy writing a book about Tunny. He pegged Tunny as a “disgraceful” man who was a complete stranger to honesty and integrity. He called Tunny “completely unsuitable to be Grand Poobah,” and declared that the loyalty pledges Tunny tried to evoke from people were more suited to the world of mob kingpins than the Grand Poobah of Cameria. Whew. I had to drop that book like it was radioactive and make sure that Tunny never got his hands on it. I probably didn’t need to worry too much since he didn’t read any books at all, whether or not they were hateful toward him.
In an attempt to sway public opinion before the Homey book was released, Tunny called Homey “dumb as a rock” and a “bald-faced liar.” Pretty boring insults, but they got the job done. Tunny wanted to put Homey in jail on charges of being the least competent NDS director ever. When he was told that Homey had documented every private meeting between them, Tunny declared Homey’s extensive notes to be “totally, totally, absolutely fabricated.” He called Homey a “bag full of sleazebags” and speculated that the only reason Homey agreed to take a second look at the email servers used by Jillary Glynnton during the 2016 Grand Poobah election was to ingratiate himself with the Drump team.
In reality, Tunny should not have been so hard on Homey. Many political pundits think that Homey’s mid-October reinvigoration of the Glynnton email investigation was the single biggest reason that Tunny’s support accelerated during the critical last few weeks of the campaign.
Very early on in his reign as Grand Poobah, Tunny’s team was reportedly extremely concerned about his erratic behavior, significant mood swings, and paranoia. They lamented the fact that he placed his popularity with the Camerian people way ahead of any substantive policies to help those same people. He could not shoulder any criticism and was quick to deflect all blame to other people. As for me, I didn’t think of him as erratic, moody, or paranoid—I just saw him as changeable, bad-tempered, and distrustful of everyone whose last name wasn’t Drump. But other people clearly saw him as, well, pathological.
Rob Goodword, a veteran investigative reporter who came to fame by breaking the LotterDate scandal back in the early 1970s, did extensive research on the Drump Beige Palace for a blockbuster book that appeared in August of 2018. Goodword portrayed Tunny as “unhinged,” “impulsive,” and “highly distractible.” He described multiple instances when top aides secretly removed documents from Tunny’s proximity to prevent Tunny from doing severe damage to a critical trading relationship or from assassinating dictators around the world who didn’t bow down to Cameria all willy nilly. Goodword also reported that Lon Shelly, Tunny’s second chief wrangler, once declared in a small meeting that the Grand Poobah was “out of control” and on a path to self-destruction that would create a lot of collateral damage. Shelly lamented that he never should have done his perceived duty and come to work in the “loony bin” that was the Drump Beige Palace.
Around the same time that advance publicity for Goodword’s book was all that reporters wanted to ask me about, an anonymous senior Drump Administration leader published an explosive essay in the BrightLights Times. The piece described a fairly pervasive conspiracy among the Beige Palace team to protect the country from Tunny’s disastrous leadership and incredibly lousy decision making. This group of senior officials wanted to make sure that decisions were being made with the citizens’ best interests in mind, even if that guiding principle was of little interest to Tunny. As might be expected, he lost it when he learned about the essay. He stirred the pot and started a game of finger-pointing at everyone, even me. Tunny demanded pledges of loyalty and denials of any complicity in the conspiracy. For weeks afterward, lunchtime at the Beige Palace mess was a tense affair, with each of us side-eyeing everyone else, wondering who was the turncoat. I just knew it wasn’t me! Really! I would never do such a thing! Never!
Near the end of 2017, Neff Blake, an Upper Body member from the solidly Elephant Party state of Zaronia, announced that he would not be seeking another term. He let it be known that he could no longer hold back when a nominal member of his political party was acting so “irrationally,” “dangerously,” and “recklessly” (amazing how those adjectives always came in threes). Blake asserted that the whole world order was threatened by Tunny’s lack of intelligence, imagination, and compassion. And he wasn’t the only one:
An elderly statesman and former Grand Poobah from Tunny’s party got into the act by calling Tunny a “bozo” who was only concerned with enhancing his ratings.
The National Journal editorialized that Tunny was not qualified to mop the floors in the Moblamah Grand Poobah Library.
And finally, Shock Moblamah himself broke the long-held ex-Grand Poobah tradition of trying not to criticize his successor. He was quoted as saying that Tunny was a “disgrace to the institution of the Grand Poobah,” “incapable of governing in a rational manner,” and “wholly unsuited to be Grand Poobah.”
Beyond His Intellectual Capacity?
Tunny thinks he’s a genius. However, most people who have spent much time around him would beg to differ, and I confess that I became one of them. Tunny has never been the most articulate person. He talks in short sentences and repeats himself quite often . . . and repeats himself quite often. Tunny isn’t a good extemporaneous public speaker. Off-the-cuff remarks always turn out badly. He does OK with a teleprompter, but that is not his favorite way to communicate, and he tends to appear stiff and uncomfortable. Again and again, I’d say to him, “Mr. Grand Poobah, Sir, you are a wonderful speaker, and the teleprompter is a wonderful invention that will make you even more of a wonderful speaker! If you follow along, and you put your heart into it, you will be even more deeply beloved!” But Tunny just grumbled.
In December of 2017, I cringed when Tunny defended his mental agility, describing himself as a “very level-headed intellectual” in reaction to suggestions in Hykul Grolff’s book that he was ill-equipped to lead. He called it all a witch hunt. Enemies, including the biased media, were ridiculing his intellectual abilities, he declared, because they had been unsuccessful in showing any coziness with Aissur during the 2016 National Cartoon Debate. Tunny then twerped:
Just to show that his election victory did not further inflate Tunny’s high opinion of himself, here’s a pretty outlandish twerp he posted way back in 2013:
I can’t remember any other administration where so many close confidants slammed the Grand Poobah. Maybe it is because no other Grand Poobah treated those closest to him with such disrespect.
In October of 2017, Tunny’s second national protection guru, J. T. Blickcaster, ridiculed his boss at an intimate dinner. He called him a “mope” and a bozo, adding that Tunny “has the brains of a five-year-old.”
Less than a year into his time as Tunny’s Beige Palace chief wrangler, former Sky Force General Lon Shelly was rumored to have called Tunny a moron. Most people could not believe that Shelly would have been so indiscreet. However, four other senior staffers eventually confirmed the outburst. Most people thought that Shelly would be out over that remark. However, Tunny did not fire him until the very end of 2018. The best explanation appears to be that saner minds prevailed as several of Tunny’s closest confidants pointed out that Shelly provided an excellent service by running a tight Beige Palace and was doing a masterful job of keeping most of Tunny’s stupidest ideas away from the light of day.
In June of 2018, Stoney Quartz, Tunny’s co-author of The Art of the Steal, twerped that Tunny couldn’t read a book and certainly didn’t help with the authorship of “their” book. He said that he would not have felt compelled to set the record straight if Tunny had not boasted about his writing abilities—which had allegedly resulted in numerous bestsellers. This revelation produced enough of an uproar that I was forced to respond:
Everyone sees Tunny as a very prolific twerper. What most people don’t know, and what I saw firsthand, is that he deploys a team of writers to augment his twerping. These minions go to great lengths to carefully copy Tunny’s poor spelling and terrible writing style. Way too many exclamation points, RANDOM CAPITALS, and incomplete sentences are thrown in to make the twerps seem like Tunny’s. I made sure to keep my fingers off of Tunny’s phone. I guess I’m just not a fan of CAPITAL LETTERS and exclamation points!!!!
Tunny frequently caught a lot of flak for retwerping controversial twerps. Many times, it was a convenient way to get behind positions that he could not back publicly. Occasionally, when he would catch even more criticism than usual for a retwerp, he would deflect direct culpability by claiming that he often retwerped twerps from people he liked without ever reading the original twerp. From my perspective, Tunny was a pretty savvy twerper. I doubt that he ever retwerped without understanding and approving of the original twerp. But I was the one who got all the heat from the press for the wild stuff he retwerped. Some days I felt like I should be wearing a Kevlar sweater.
This same team was responsible for enhancing Tunny’s photos on his LifeStories and PhotosGalore accounts. Photos were modified to make Tunny appear much fitter and healthier than he was. His shoulders were made to look broader, his hair more in control and a little less orange, and his fingers a little longer. Some days, I’d squint hard at the Grand Poobah and could see through my mascara the man that Tunny wanted the world to he think he was.
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