Many books ex-Trump officials will soon write will go something like this. (Note: this is a spoof.)

Finally I can detail how bad it was working inside the Trump administration. Worse than you could imagine. If it weren’t for self-sacrificing, principled good guys like me, the federal government might have collapsed. We saved America from harm and decline.

I know many disparage me. The media especially portray me as a Trump “enabler” who opportunistically joined the Trump administration to get close to power or a lucrative job afterward. Not so. Initially, I was a Trump enthusiast, but a couple months into the job convinced me and others that the White House was big-time dysfunctional. Then we faced a choice: stay or go. Most concluded we did more good by staying. Painfully, we toughed it out.

True, I had to act like a total Trump loyalist. All his hires do. Any public disobedience or hint of disloyalty gets you fired. But privately, among ourselves and with trusted journalists, we bemoaned Trump and worried where he was taking the country. Actually, getting fired would have let me write this book sooner.

Staying in office, however, enabled us to quietly restrain Trump’s ignorant impulses. We were the proverbial “guardrails” and “adults in the room.” Just review his tweets and sound-bites and ask why none of them were carried out. Stopping them was our handiwork. We let him tweet to his heart’s content, then neglected to produce the paperwork to follow through. After a day or two, he would invariably get distracted by something else.

When Trump called for Attorney General Barr and FBI Director Wray to arrest Joe Biden, everyone gasped: it would make us an instant banana republic. Incrementally, we worked Trump’s rant downward. First, we asked if Trump didn’t mean “indict” rather than “arrest.” Trump couldn’t see much difference, so indict was all right. Then we asked if before we indict we must first “investigate.” Whatever it takes, he said. In a few days, he had moved on to other tweets. There was no investigation. Our method: Quietly stall until the tantrum passes.

Or Trump’s North Korea fiasco. Several top experts warned Trump that Kim Jong-un would never give up nuclear weapons. But Trump, no reader of history, was convinced diplomacy is all personality, that smiles and handshakes can break through decades of hostility. So we let him bask in the pretend progress of the 2018 Singapore summit, which achieved no commitments but gave Kim an undeserved propaganda boost. Their 2019 Hanoi summit was cut short when Kim demanded the U.S. end all sanctions. A few months later, the two met briefly at the Korean DMZ, after which little was heard about denuclearization.

Or take the wall with Mexico. At first, Trump demanded an impregnable 30-foot barrier running the entire length of the border. And Mexico would pay for it! When that didn’t happen, we helped Trump scale down expectations to a display of several styles of walls plus new construction of a couple hundred miles to replace older, flimsy barriers. They photographed well, and soon Trump’s and the public’s attention drifted.

The general tactic was to delay while giving Trump his photo ops, whittle down expectations and then flush the charade down the memory hole. That’s the advantage of a president — and a public — with a short attention span.

Our last big effort along these lines tried to avert a democracy-ending catastrophe by gently persuading Trump that he didn’t win re-election. Again, we didn’t directly contradict him but let judges reject his meritless fraud claims. Grudgingly and gracelessly, he finally began to face reality. I admit we exercised no restraint in the pandemic. Ignoring advice, Trump mocked masks, held super-spreader rallies and announced that coronavirus was already receding.

Think I exaggerate the role of conscientious political appointees? Just count the number of departures from the White House and executive departments. Many appointees lasted only a year or so. And why do you think the Trump White House leaked to the media like none other before? We were the anonymous sources for the news stories that restrained Trump.

Top Pentagon officials, after Trump’s June march across Lafayette Square, made clear they would not let the military be used against civilian demonstrations. Trump was enraged and fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper — who began in 2019 as an ultraloyalist — just after the election. Firings overall accelerate after the election — Trump’s parting, damaging shot.

Trump hadn’t really expected to be elected. But once he was, we had to make the most of it and limit possible damage. By and large, I think we did. The Republic is so lucky it had us. Eventually, we’ll be appreciated. Now ensconced in Washington law offices, partisan think tanks and K Street lobbies, we are ready to serve the next Republican administration.

(Hmm. Maybe it’s not a very funny spoof.)