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Terry Curtis Fox Headshot

Appoint Abner Mikva To Obama's Senate Seat

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It's a short-term solution but it's the only immediate solution I can see to the current mess created by Rod Blagojevich.

Illinois now faces the awful prospect of either having an appointed Senator who will be greeted with immediate suspicion (if, of course, the Senate allows such a person to be seated at all) or having Barack Obama's seat vacant when the new session begins in January.

Special elections take time. Impeachment takes time. Federal corruption trials take a lot of time.

Anyone who was under consideration before today (no matter how they gained office) would enter under a continuing cloud, one which could only darken as Blagojevich's case made its agonizing way through the federal courts.

But the 82-year old Mikva is beyond reproach - perhaps the only man alive in Illinois who could be appointed tomorrow without tarnish.

Absent any age-related health issues, Mikva would serve with distinction. It's the only thing he's ever done. He was a great Congressman (with the special honor of having been the target of redistricting ousters by both machine Democrats and Republicans), and he was a brilliant member of the D.C. Circuit. It doesn't hurt that he was one of the President-elect's earliest supporters. At a time when Ted Kennedy is stepping away from his seat on the Judiciary Committee, there is no one with greater wisdom or experience to oversee the first round of Obama appointments.

And, of course, he wouldn't be in contention for re-election. That would give Illinois Democrats time to regroup, settle on the best candidate for 2010, and allow that candidate to run without the current scandal's taint.

For that matter, Mikva could resign once there was a certainty that a selection process for the seat emerged and that the public was fully aware of who did and did not entertain Blagojevich's corrupt proposals.

It would be a lot to ask of Abner Mikva. But given the circumstances, he just might accept.