The New York Times called the president’s speech in Maryland this afternoon a “passionate, campaign-style defense” of his crowning legislative achievement — which I suppose is pretty apt, because “offense” it most certainly was not, and the fully partisan guns were blazing:

President Obama mounted a passionate, campaign-style defense of his health care program on Thursday, just days before its main elements take effect, mocking opponents for “crazy” arguments and accusing them of trying to “blackmail a president” to stop the law.

Addressing a friendly audience outside Washington, the president abandoned the professorial tone he sometimes takes while describing the program and departed from his text to fire up supporters. He portrayed critics as billionaires who would deny help for the sick, and politicians who have become hostage to Tea Party ideologues.

Mr. Obama, his voice laced with scorn, ridiculed Republicans for threatening to shut down the government or refusing to increase the debt ceiling to undercut the health care program, saying they had “put up every conceivable roadblock” and were “poisoning Obamacare” so they could then “claim it’s sick.” He cited some of their more flamboyant quotes in an attempt to portray them as extremists, including one racially charged quotation.

It’s the a whole lot of same old “spiteful obstructionist” tact that’s worked so well for him in the past, and of course, no populist critique of the sordid saboteurs messing up President Obama’s noble ambitions is complete without a denunciations of the dreaded Fox News, via NRO:

Funnily enough, right about the time the president was speaking, his administration announced yet another glitchy little delay in the law’s rollout, via WaPo — but heck, I’m sure that’s probably Republicans and Fox News’ fault, too, right?

Small-business health exchanges run by the federal government will not open for online enrollment until November, the administration said Thursday. But applicants may still enroll by phone, mail or fax beginning Oct. 1.

The White House had initially planned to launch these marketplaces, which serve businesses with fewer than 50 people, on Tuesday, the same day that individual marketplaces go live. While the Web sites of the federally run exchanges will go live on that date, an administration official said that the “feature of shopping for and comparing plans online will be available starting November 1.”

Instead of a live application, the federal government will post a PDF version on Tuesday. Applications will still be taken by phone, mail and fax. Sometime in October, a live application will go up on the Web, the administration said.