Conservatism has a fantastic record in national politics because socialism is easy to deconstruct, and even easier now with the EU, Kanuckistan, and Democrats illustrating its destructive nature.
McCain was a RINO. He didn't force the press to cover Obi's past.
JFK today would be a Republican to the right of McCain.
Bush 41 wasn't one, and because he caved to get along, he lost. Perot helped Clinton too.
Reagan... well, he kicked ass.
Bush 43 was no conservative. He spent way too much. Chip off the old block I guess.
It will be interesting to see who emerges for 2012. Only 18 months until Iowa!