For Barack Obama, the days of taking Republican attacks without firing back are over, said E.J. Dionne Jr. in The Washington Post. The president used his much-anticipated speech before Congress on Wednesday to sweep aside a summer full of misconceptions, "distortions, and outright lies" about his health plan. "For the cause of health-care reform, it was about time." (watch Obama's health speech, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5)

The big speech was the easy part, said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial. Obama spelled out the need for new regulations on insurers and the rationale for helping the uninsured obtain coverage. "The hard part, in terms of both policy and politics, is finding a way to pay for the expansion in coverage."

Obama's much-anticipated speech wasn't much help in that department, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. He offered little that was new—his plan, which he said would cost $900 billion over 10 years, is basically the one Democrats are pushing in the Senate. So the president was merely "doubling down," and betting he and his allies can force ObamaCare into law—only a "giant wave of popular opposition" can stop it now.

"Maybe I'm wrong," said Peter Suderman in Reason, but I don't think Obama's speech will be enough to push reform over the top. Reform advocates seem "reasonably happy" with what Obama said, but he still waffled on important issues such as the "public option"— a government-run alternative to private insurance. He'll have to do better than that.

No argument here, said The New York Times in an editorial. Obama has been far too passive "as his opponents have twisted and distorted the health care debate," and a single speech won't be enough to compensate. To get his top domestic priority passed, Obama will have to "do more than orate," and "twist arms among timid Democrats in Congress to get a strong bill passed, most likely with little support from Republicans."