During the last few months a very strange political development has occurred. Most of the Republican candidates seeking to unseat President Obama in November have encounteredserious trouble raising money. By April of 2007, Hillary Clinton had raised $36 million; and Barack Obama had raised $24 million. No Republican candidate today has even approached these totals. Some Republican candidates, like Mitt Romney, can finance much of their campaigns themselves, but financing an entire presidential campaign is extremely expensive and should not be necessary for candidates, particularly Republican candidates, who enjoy significant political support.
The November election will be crucial to the future of the Barack Obama presidency and, of course, the country more generally. In some respects, the Obama presidency, still less than two years old, has been characterized by more tests of this nature than most. First there was the stimulus bill, which Obama needed to pass to prove that he could govern. Then there was the fight for the Massachusetts senate seat that had been held by the late Ted Kennedy for almost half a century. The president and his party failed that test as that seat went to a Republican for the first time in most of our memories. Obama then recovered somewhat with the passage of the health care bill, which, while a relatively moderate pro-health insurance industry bill, at least demonstrated the president's continued relevance on domestic affairs as well as his ability to go up against the Republicans and win.
In the likely event that this bill passes, President Obama will be able to point to another major piece of domestic legislation almost immediately following the health care bill. The charges of socialism against Obama will not die down after this bill is passed; they may in fact get stronger. These cries, however, will become increasingly irrelevant. Some significant minority of the American people will continue to call Obama socialist almost no matter what, but this is beginning to look less like a problem for Obama and more like one for the Republican's, as they find themselves controlled by a radical and angry, right wing base.