The president’s inviting Mitt Romney for lunch is a small thing but a brilliant move. It makes Mr. Obama look big, gracious. It implies the weakened, battered former GOP nominee is the leader of the Republican Party—and if the other party has to have a leader, the weakened, battered one is the one you want.

Mr. Romney is not the leader of the party; he left no footprints in the sand. There is no such thing as Romneyism, no movement of which he’s the standard-bearer. Nor is he a Washington figure with followers. Party leaders already view him as a kind of accident, the best of a bad 2012 lot, a hiccup. The bottom-line attitude of Republican political pros: Look, this is a man who’s lived a good life and would have been a heck of a lot better than Obama, and I backed him. But to be a successful Republican president now requires a kind of political genius, and he didn’t have it and wasn’t going to develop it. His flaws as a candidate would have been his flaws as president. We dodged a bullet.

Republicans may be the stupid party, but they’re not the sentimental one. Democrats often like their losers. Republicans like winners, and they find reasons to be moved by them after they’ve won.

To the extent the GOP has an elected face, it is that of Speaker  John Boehner. And he is precisely the man with whom Mr. Obama should be having friendly lunches. In fact, the meal with Mitt just may be a clever attempt to obscure the fact that the president isn’t really meeting with those with whom he’s supposed to be thrashing out the fiscal cliff.

For the entire column click here. (WSJ subscription required)