Are conservatives supposed to suddenly like Obama? Or at least give him the benefit of the doubt? As far as I can tell, precisely none of the liberals urging this on conservatives obeyed their dicta when George Bush was supposed to be the object of their affections.
As to the first, not “suddenly,” and not without reason. Conservatives don’t “like” Obama because they disagree with his vision of America and his domestic and national security positions (at least the old ones). But if he changes either or both, they will like him more. If he abandons measures like card check, agrees to offshore drilling, drops his income and payroll tax ideas, and turns off the bailout money spigot they will like him very much.
As to the second, I think the reaction will be varied. Many conservatives who recoiled against the “Bush lied, people died” mantra are loathe to go down the road of impugning the motives of the President. Others will have no such reservations. But I think conservatives will be more skeptical and harsh than virtually all of the MSM, which has not quite abandoned its “What can we do for ‘ya, Barack?” outlook. To quote Ronald Reagan, “Trust but verify.”
If all of this sounds reactive, it is. Virtually every lever of power rests with the President-elect and his party. If they run left or react with partisan venom toward legitimate political opposition, it won’t be a garden party. But if Obama continues to disappoint and infuriate the Left by appointing middle-of-the-roaders to high office, and follows up with policy moves with wide popularity (e.g. middle class tax cuts, finishing the job in Iraq, effective education reform), he’ll find a warm reception on the Right. It really is up to him.
How likely is it that he will continue to displease the Left and intrigue the Right? It is unknown, just as much about the President-elect is unknown. He is a work in progress and as a result, so is the conservative reaction to him.