“He’s a nice guy,” says a longtime Obama adviser, speaking of Boehner. “Left to his own devices, I think he would probably cut some kind of a deal. But after a while the president has to be, like, “John’s okay, but there has to be a question of competence.’ You go through this a hundred times, and yeah, that does have an impact on a relationship.”

People close to the speaker say Boehner also thinks Obama is a nice guy — but the kind of nice guy addicted to the sound of his own voice, prone to long delivering pedantic “lectures,” boasting about his superior political skills and fond of telling Boehner how to run his own political affairs.

The speaker’s comments have taken on a more personal tone recently, as Obama has eschewed direct negotiations for a nationwide barnstorming tour to place blame for the automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs on the Hill GOP.

“I don’t think he has the guts to do it,” an angry speaker said on Feb. 12, when asked if Obama was serious about deficit reduction through budget cuts and entitlement reform. “He doesn’t have the courage to take on the liberal side of his own party — never has.”