Boehner: I refuse to negotiate one-on-one with Obama anymore

But … how else will we get our fill of facile political drama in the weeks leading up to the big debt-ceiling standoff? The one and only redeeming virtue of the fiscal cliff negotiations was that it produced a cheeky anecdote of one major player dropping the F-bomb on another.

Someone will still drop the F-bomb in February, right?

During both 2011 and 2012, the Speaker spent weeks shuttling between the Capitol and the White House for meetings with the president in the hopes of striking a grand bargain on the deficit.

Those efforts ended in failure, leaving Boehner feeling burned by Obama and, at times, isolated within his conference.

In closed-door meetings since leaving the “fiscal cliff” talks two weeks ago, lawmakers and aides say the Speaker has indicated he is abandoning that approach for good and will return fully to the normal legislative process in 2013 — seeking to pass bills through the House that can then be adopted, amended or reconciled by the Senate.

“He is recommitting himself and the House to what we’ve done, which is working through regular order and letting the House work its will,” an aide to the Speaker told The Hill.

He knows the debt-ceiling negotiations will be the toughest yet, with the highest likelihood of real economic damage resulting when both sides dig in and refuse to budge. Go figure that he doesn’t want to be the face of it on the Republican side. Instead he’s going to follow a version of the strategy he followed last night by presenting the caucus with options. When he tried to spearhead his own plan, Plan B, he got humiliated. When he forced the caucus to choose between prolonging the standoff by sending an amended bill back to the Senate or else letting the Senate bill come to the floor for an up-or-down vote with Democratic support, he succeeded in getting the Senate bill through and will likely keep his Speakership despite violating the “majority of the majority” rule. In other words, I’m not so sure his new strategy is aimed at rejecting Obama as much as it is rejecting his current role as the guy who’s supposed to somehow bridge the gap between establishment Republicans and tea partiers. (In fact, a Boehner aide emphasized to the Hill that he’ll continue to talk to, and meet with, O as necessary.) From now on, they can vote their way to fiscal resolutions, either by holding out until Obama caves and gives them what they want or until enough establishment GOPers break off and join with the Dems on a compromise. Besides, given how this process played out, I’m not sure O’s going to be the lead negotiator anymore for his side either.

Speaking of House Republicans in new roles, does anyone really think Paul Ryan’s 2016 odds are seriously damaged because he voted yes on this shinola sandwich? I hasten to remind you that McCain was nominated after supporting amnesty and campaign finance reform and despite rumored flirtations in the past with the possibility of switching parties. Romney was nominated despite having been pro-choice and having signed RomneyCare into law. Republican voters in presidential primaries are either very forgiving or considerably more moderate than the sort of activists who read righty blogs, and Ryan has a leg up on the competition with them because of the name recognition he got from joining the ticket this year. He’ll have more opportunities to prove his fiscally conservative bona fides, starting with the next budget death match this spring, and if anything he may gain some bipartisan cred with squishy GOP voters for having voted with the Dems this time. I’m not saying he deserves to win, but I’ve written enough incredulous “c’mon, we’re not actually going to nominate McCain/Romney” posts in my almost seven years here to know that no one’s too heretical to get a serious look from Republican voters.