Thursday, November 21, 2019

#2270: Robert Smith II

Smith in a not-quite-recent
We’ve encountered one Robert Smith before. The current entry’s Bob Smith, however, is perhaps the most high-profile loon of that name covered thus far: Robert Clinton Smith served as a member of the United States House of Representatives for New Hampshire’s 1st congressional district from 1985 to 1990, and the whole state in the US Senate from 1990 to 2003 (nominally a Republican, Smith has also had a long involvement with the Constitution Party); he even tried his hand at the presidential election in 2000, but withdrew his candidacy before the primaries began. During his Senate tenure, Smith was best known for his strident opposition to gay rights: he voted to keep anti-gay employment discrimination legal, opposed hate crimes protections, and refused to even institute a non-discrimination policy for his own employees. Notably, with Jesse Helms, he introduced a 1994 amendment denying federal funding to schools that “encourage homosexuality” by teaching about LGBT families in an inclusive way (it passed) – Smith called such messages “trash”. Smith and Helms also proposed special protections for the Boy Scouts’ right to discriminate; “Rome died from a lot less than this,” said Smith, adding that “when you dilute your moral code to this extent, and if this keeps up, the obituary for America is going to be written.” With regard to confirmation of LGBT nominees, Smith said that sending Ambassador James Hormel to Luxembourg was “like sending Louis Farrakhan to Israel,” and that confirming Roberta Achtenberg as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development could lead to America becoming “a society cast off from our moral underpinnings and set adrift.”

His long list of wingnuttery also includes asserting that the National Endowment for the Arts is unconstitutional and consistently advocating for the abolition of the U.S. Department of Education, supporting school vouchers instead. Part of the reasoning for the latter was of course based on Smith’s desire to get more religion into public education; Smith has otherwise also co-sponsored a suggested constitutional amendment to mandate school prayers. 

Diagnosis: A deranged pile of rot fueled by bigotry. He might be considered more of a village idiot or curiosity at present, but the level of lunacy involved doesn’t exactly set him much apart from many of the loons currently in positions of power.

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