So we'll defer to the ever-insightful, gently articulate Peggy Noonan, who as a Ronald Reagan speechwriter should know something about the Reagan legacy that every candidate seems to be appropriating. Here's a teaser quotation:
I would like to note that the media's fixation with which Republican is the most like Reagan, and who is the next Reagan, and who parts his hair like Reagan, is absurd, and subtly undermining of Republicans, which is why they do it. Reagan was Reagan, a particular man at a particular point in history. What is to be desired now is a new greatness. Another way of saying this is that in 1960, John F. Kennedy wasn't trying to be the next FDR, and didn't feel forced to be. FDR was the great, looming president of Democratic Party history, and there hadn't been anyone as big or successful since 1945, but JFK thought it was good enough to be the best JFK. And the press wasn't always sitting around saying he was no FDR. Oddly enough, they didn't consider that an interesting theme.
They should stop it already, and Republicans should stop playing along. They should try instead a pleasant. "You know I don't think I'm Reagan, but I do think John Edwards may be Jimmy Carter, and I'm fairly certain Hillary is Walter Mondale."...
If we view the proceedings in vulgar and reductive Who Won, Who Lost terms, and let's, Mitt Romney won, Rudy Giuliani lost, and John McCain is still in.