As President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats sift through the rubble of their original health care reform plan, today's televised summit meeting presents perhaps their best opportunity to finally get something done.

In the Democrats' quest to get a bill through the Senate with the 60 votes required to beat a Republican filibuster, the final result looked like one of those intricate devices created by the late Rube Goldberg.

Take the public option out so as not to offend Joe Lieberman. Bribe Nebraska's Ben Nelson with anti-abortion restrictions and a pot of gold. Try to mollify Republicans with tort reform.

The best that could be said for the resulting offering was that it covered millions more people and did away with insurance companies being able to refuse coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.

Certainly better than nothing, but not the reform Obama promised before he was elected.

Then, of course, the late Ted Kennedy's Senate seat was won by a Republican, and there went the Democrats' 60th vote.

In engaging with Obama in today's summit, some Republicans feel they are taking a chance of losing public opinion because of the president's charisma and persuasiveness.

On NBC's "Meet The Press" on Sunday, House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence said:

"Republicans are ready to work. But what we can't help but feel like here is the Democrats spell summit, S-E-T-U-P. And all this is gonna be is some media event, used as a preamble to shove through Obamacare 2.0."

What Republicans fear most going into today's meetings is that if they are seen on C-SPAN as merely obstructionists, then it gives Democrats cover to ram through their health care plans without having to worry about a filibuster.

Reconciliation is a parliamentary device used sparingly in the past by both parties to pass bills with only 51 votes, rather than 60. Democrats have been loath to employ it because it sets a dangerous precedent for the inevitable time when they are the minority party.

The way we see it, if the Democrats are going to go the reconciliation route, they should not go halfway. Rather, they should show more political courage than they have mustered in the past year in power and pass a bill with a public option.

Obama's proposal doesn't include a public option, but he would certainly go along if Congress were to include one.

Ultimately, half a loaf is better than nothing for the millions of citizens without health care, but we would love to see today's summit lead to meaningful legislation that should have been passed months ago.

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