As I noted at the Lunch Buffet, the day after we published Stuart Reid’s article on Rand Paul’s growing influence on GOP foreign policy, the hyper-conservative Washington Free Beacon published a heat-seeking item by Alana Goodman reporting that one of the Paul advisors mentioned in Reid’s piece, Senate staffer (and former book co-author with his boss), Jack Hunter, has a rich and vivid history as a neo-Confederate agitator in various media.

Goodman unearths a long list of southern revisionist utterances by Hunter, who called himself “the Southern Avenger” in his years as a radio talk host, often sporting a Confederate Battle Flag mask. His claims that he has “moderated” his views since becoming a fixture in Rand Land sound more like “I learned to keep my mouth shut” rationalizations than anything else.

Now unsavory right-wing associations are hardly a new problem for Rand Paul (or for his father, for that matter). As Salon‘s Alex Seitz-Wald points out, the first spokesperson for Paul’s 2010 Senate campaign had to step down after his rock band’s MySpace page was found to be full of racist invective.
TAP’s Jamelle Bouie notes Ron Paul’s famous association with racist newsletter articles, and also Sen. Paul’s history of wishy-washiness on the Civil Rights Act.

Racism aside, I’ve noted the close association of both Pauls with the Christian Reconstructionists of the U.S. Constitution Party. And Lord knows what’s a bit further under the surface.

If Team Paul can’t figure out how to put a lid on the Hunter problem, it could flare up next time he visits the key 2016 state of South Carolina, which happens to be where (surprise, surprise) “the Southern Avenger” cut most of his White Trash Superhero capers.

But a reminder of Paul’s deep roots outside the political mainstream should mainly be a reminder of the need to pay close attention to the ways in which he is seeking to make himself respectable. So enjoy the exposes of Jack Hunter, but then read Stuart Reid’s carefully researched examination of Rand Paul’s sudden foreign policy street cred.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.