Conor is this close to getting it:
As a proponent of conservatism in America, Limbaugh was a failure who in his later years abandoned the project of advancing a positive agenda, culminating in his alignment with the vulgar style and populist anti-leftism of Donald Trump. Character no longer mattered. Budget deficits no longer mattered. Free trade no longer mattered. Nepotism no longer mattered. Lavishing praise on foreign dictators no longer mattered.
All that mattered was owning the libs in the culture war, in part to avenge a deeply felt sense of aggrievement. Limbaugh and Trump were alike in attaining great wealth and political influence while still talking and seeming to feel as though society was stacked against guys like them.
Indeed, when oh when did conservatism become about what 99% of conservatives want rather than the priorities of 20 libertarian journalists?
It’s amazing at this late date that anyone, let alone someone who writes about politics for money, could think that budget deficits are more central to “real” American conservatism than owning the libs, but here we are. At any rate, Limbaugh was successful precisely because he embodies what actually existing American conservatism has always been. I’m particularly curious when he thinks conservatism and nepotism have ever been incompatible doctrines, but anyway…