Originally created 11/04/99

The foolish senator

Republicans in the Senate are welcoming New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith back into the fold after he deserted the party a few months ago to make a Quixotic run for the presidency as an independent.

This was after Smith's GOP primary bid fell flat -- hardly surprising given that few outside the Granite State ever heard of him and the conservative causes he championed were already being advanced by better known and more articulate candidates.

In short, Smith made a fool of himself by running in the first place, then he made an even bigger fool by denouncing his party and announcing he'd run as an independent.

In his bitter departure speech, Smith ripped Republicans for "sacrificing principles" for the pursuit of power. But now that he has been taken back into the GOP ranks, it seems he's more consumed with power than principle.

Smith seeks to maintain his seniority -- just like he'd never left -- which would make him the next chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, a post that unexpectedly became vacant when Sen. John Chafee, R-R.I., suddenly died.

Talk about hypocrisy. As a committee head, says Smith, he could better serve his New Hampshire constituents. But where was that concern when he abandoned his constituents to make his silly independent presidential run?

Republicans are right to welcome Smith back into the party; he's still an elected official. But he certainly shouldn't be rewarded for his apostasy by retaining his seniority. Dumb political judgments should have consequences and in Smith's case that should mean a trip to the bottom of the seniority ladder, just like any freshman senator.

Besides, who wants a man who keeps making a fool of himself heading a major Senate committee?


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