Reince Priebus at the White House in June. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Opinion writer

“How did it come to this?” Reince Priebus said. “When we struck our deal two years ago, I thought you would make me White House chief of staff to Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. Ted Cruz if it came to that. But then to suffer the daily humiliation of serving THAT man. The mocking. He ordered me to swat flies in the Oval Office. He would constantly remind me of how I asked him to drop out of the race during the “Access Hollywood” fiasco. Do you even know how many times?”

“Actually, yes,” his interlocutor replied. “I keep close tabs on all of my collaborators.”

“I thought that when I signed your book I was just agreeing to an eventual eternity in hell, or wherever you live.”

“The San Fernando Valley.”

“Right — the New Jersey of the West Coast. Anyway, I didn’t realize that the torture would begin almost immediately.”

“Well, you’re not exactly a Faust at the negotiating table.”

“And then to be fired so quickly.”

“It’s like that old Woody Allen joke: such bad food, and such small portions.”

“When I was in the White House, I could tell myself I had a good reason to be there. I was the establishment figure, the voice of reason, the restraint on a presidency run amok.”

“How did that go?”

“You’re on Twitter. But there was also the agenda to consider. Sure, large portions turned out to be too unpopular to pass. But at least I helped Paul Ryan cope with the president. Poor Paul. What will he do without me?”

“Don’t worry about him. It took him a little longer to come around, but I got him to sign up with me, too. He took some convincing after Trump had trouble distancing himself from David Duke.”

“Oh yeah, I’d almost forgotten that one. That was back when we still thought we could change him. How did you get Paul to come around?”

“I promised him a GOP Congress. He would do practically anything for a tax cut.”

“Is there anyone in the party you haven’t turned?”

“Sadly, yes. The health-care bill didn’t pass, did it? Still, 49 votes. Not every lord of darkness could get even that far.”

“Yeah, we came close. Now I’ve been replaced by a general. What is it with Trump and generals? You know he wanted some kind of North Korea-style military parade for his inauguration?”

“Yeah, even I think that’s weird.”

“Oh, yeah? I thought that was your touch.”

“Trump? No, I don’t have a deal with him. To be worth my time, my collaborators have to possess some reservoir of decency they can surrender. If there were anything in it for me, believe me I’d get it. He’s a worse negotiator than you are.”

“It was still worth it, though, right?”

“Sure. That’s what history will conclude. Anyway, you’ll have a long time in the Valley to think about it.”