Such comments might sound like convenient political posturing, but they comport with Ryan’s remarks to conservative lawmakers in the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) last week. As he courted the HFC’s support, Ryan criticized Boehner’s performance as a strategist and a manager of the conference. He proposed changes with the implicit promise of empowering rank-and-file lawmakers — and the potential to induce their loyalty, sparing him Boehner’s fate.

“[Ryan] said we haven’t been running a good ship for a while now,” one HFC member tells National Review. His diagnosis: Boehner’s team has too often failed to develop an actionable strategy in fights with President Obama, which has resulted in leadership setting the GOP agenda in eleventh-hour talks that give Democrats the negotiating power to advance their legislative priorities.

As a corrective, Ryan plans to schedule “semi-regular” GOP conference meetings “that are focused on policy” rather than House current events, according to a spokesman in his office. He also wants to meet more frequently with individual members of the conference, giving HFC lawmakers a chance to influence the strategy while also binding them to support the conference’s plan.