Patterico and Jeff Goldstein have been having a very enlightening discussion over Rush Limbaugh. Actually, the discussion has little to do with Rush, but as usual he serves as a useful catalyst for discussion. Go to their sites if you want background on the discussion. Hell, go to their sites because they are both conservative mainstays...even in disagreement they are probably twice the conservative anyone in congress is.
The point I want to make is that conservatism is about sticking with what works. Throughout recorded history, capitalism is the only economic system that doesn't lead its people deeper into slavery to the state...rather, it engenders freedom simply by following the free market. No one can own conservatism, and in that sense Rush is just a man speaking about what he believes. Listen to him or not, he is not conservatism. If Rush Limbaugh damns himself it irrelevance that doesn't mean that conservatism is defunct...it just means that conservatism will fall back on what works.
What works you ask? People that are clear about their fundamental beliefs, live by them, and speak with conviction about a hope for a free America. An America free from the despotic rule of fairness and censorship. An America that permits people to fail while offering them myriad opportunities to succeed. These are the people that conservatism must hail as its standard bearers. True believers as it were.
Final thought on the Limbaugh mess: what have we learned about the power of language? Rush spoke only four words and yet people are looking for any possible misunderstanding rather than face the truth. I have commented a few times that I think this problem is one of philosophy - namely, intentionalism vs. formalism/reader-response theory. I am an intentionalist. I believe that when someone says something their words can only mean what they intended them to mean. No amount of reinterpretation can change what an author meant.
If success means the end of freedom and the final breath of liberty in America, then I hope he fails too.