President Obama won a “quick, sweet victory,” said Richard Stevenson in The New York Times, when Congressional leaders agreed to a $789 billion economic stimulus bill Wednesday night. But it was not the kind of victory he had hoped for. His inability to win over more than “a handful of Republicans” was a political “loss of innocence,” and the big price tag could hamper his ambitious domestic agenda.

Getting his bill through “wasn’t pretty,” said John Dickerson in Slate, in part because he chose the “fierce urgency of now” approach over “transparency or a thorough think about things.” The House and Senate bills were reconciled “mostly in secret” by White House aides, Democratic leaders, and three Northeastern Republicans. That’s “hardly unusual,” but it’s “not the change Obama promised.”

Why should Republicans have been invited to the table? said John Cole in Balloon Juice. The GOP provided a total of three votes in both houses for the bill, and those three helped finalize the bill. The rest of the party “demagogued, lied, whined, and had a hissy fit about the bill,” even though it was “loaded with tax cuts designed to please Republicans.” Want some say? Bring some votes.

Given their lack of power, Congressional Republicans are actually “playing their hand extraordinarily well,” said Karl Rove in The Wall Street Journal. House Republicans in particular have used the increasingly unpopular bill to “redefine their party” and make Obama and the Democrats own the spending glut. Obama “won this legislative battle, but at a high price”—he “re-energized the GOP.”