I would say this. It's sort of implicit and maybe half understood. But it's worth noting out loud that the GOP of today is quite a bit more conservative than it was only four years ago. No, John McCain was not the first choice of the GOP base. But it was also possible to nominate someone who supported immigration reform, who had at least some level of support for climate change legislation. The same could be said on a few other fronts.
The Obama presidency has led the GOP to make verboten a series of policies it either pioneered or which at least some significant segments of the party embraced. So it's not just that the GOP is living in the 'past'. I agree with their stalwarts that this is a sort of misleading way to put it. But the 'Iron Wall' policy vis-a-vis Obama has put the party in a position in which it is quite hard to play in a national (as opposed to a midterm) election.