While Obama has been something of a disaster for the Democratic party in terms of congressional and state offices, he still got Obamacare. He also helped steer same-sex marriage to a victory at the Supreme Court, a court where his two ideologically left-wing appointees sit. His EPA helped kill the coal industry while he’s poured billions in subsidies into wind and solar boondoggles.
No Republican wants to emulate Obama’s many failures, but few wouldn’t love to emulate his successes – in a conservative way.
The point is, it depends what you mean by a Republican Obama. For instance, when Cruz was elected to the Senate, many conservatives hoped – and many liberals feared – that he would be a Republican Obama.
My National Review colleague Jay Nordlinger wrote back in 2009, before Cruz was elected, “Is he our Obama – a Republican Obama? Well, he is far less slippery than our new president. But there are similarities – especially where communications skills are concerned.”
Every candidate’s record is fair game. But by their very nature, arguments about a politician’s record are arguments about the past. Rubio and Cruz – or as I like to call them, Los Hermanos Cubanos – can frame their candidacies on the future. In a year when a majority of Americans – and a super-majority of Republicans – think the country is on the wrong track, that’s an advantage.