Kayakers and swimmers on the Willamette River in a heavy fog


Published 2020-10-03

Imagine the worst, cruelest, most incompetent, most ineffectual CEO you’ve ever worked under. Remember what a total shitshow that job was?

Now imagine that CEO just…vanishes. Disappears with no warning. Total chaos in the C-suite. Where is Boss Person?

Even if they were utterly incompetent, even if more got done on the days they didn’t come to work…the mere existence of that person in that seat maintained some forward inertia for the company. At the very least it clarified a few critical lines of communication that supplied business oxygen — even if (maybe especially if) that person couldn’t competently use those lines. If a flunky needed to manipulate a critical process, they knew which strings to pull, and could with some confidence predict the result.

But with Boss Person gone, those lines just…flutter. The flunkies can pull on them, but who knows what will happen? The company — no matter how badly it’s failing, no matter how toxic it is — is at the top levels paralyzed. The flunkies stop pulling on strings. They sit in their corner offices and fret.

Lots of low level work will of course continue to happen. Shipments in process are still shipping. Accounts are still being received, and expense reports being filed. But eventually all that work will need to tug on one of the strings that’s connected to the Boss Person. And we don’t know what will happen when they do.

That situation cannot persist very long. Maybe the flunkies revolt and buy Boss Person out. Or the Board ousts Boss Person. Or everyone agrees — out loud and, this is key, officially — that Boss Person has been sidelined, and now Vice Boss Person will be at the end of all the strings that were previously attached to Boss Person. If these things don’t happen, the company will eventually, probably rapidly, cease functioning, top to bottom. This kind of confusion in the c-suite is the death rattle of a dysfunctional company.

It is not exaggeration to say I hate the Current Occupant and his flunkies. (Sidenote: I don’t think I ever hated anyone before 2016.) I think the government at its top levels functions best on days when he is golfing. But even when he was officially doing nothing (golf), he was tied to many extremely important strings. Knowing that he was tied to them, and that nothing would happen if you pull on them, was critical knowledge. It is…not good…when we can’t even rely on this thin knowledge.


it’s even worse than if the President just vanished. We can’t even be sure he vanished. He and all his flunkies have so poisoned their own credibility that we can only expect that any given thing they say is probably a lie.

America needs to sort this shit out pronto.