Rand Paul’s newest problem

The conservative Washington Free Beacon is out with a blockbuster scoop, reporting that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) employs radical right-winger Jack Hunter, who has a history of outlandish statements (as late as 2009) including opposition to the Civil War that would make Pat Buchanan cringe. He was, according to the report, a “shock jock” who widely propagated his views over a decade.

Sen. Rand Paul
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) (James Crisp / Associated Press)

He has repudiated some, but not all of his views:

Hunter told the Free Beacon that he no longer holds many of these views.

He said he has changed his position on Lincoln’s assassination but still believes the Civil War was a mistake.

“You can be for the conclusion of a war without being for a war,” Hunter said. “I don’t think assassinating a president is ever right, unless it was somebody like Adolf Hitler.”

He said his comments about Hispanic immigrants and culture was meant to be “a point [about] how the culture changes with migration patterns. That’s true. The difference between now and then is I saw that as a serious problem then. I don’t think I see that as a serious problem now.”

He expressed surprise when read his remarks about race, saying, “Hearing you even read that to me, because I just don’t speak like that, sort of bothers me.” He said his views had changed dramatically.

He said he no longer thinks the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were terrorist attacks and does not believe that neoconservative foreign policy is driven purely by oil and Israel.

While Hunter declined to say that he no longer supports secession, he told the Free Beacon that the issue is “sort of a dead letter” in the United States.

Suffice it to say, if anyone in Paul’s office knew of this man’s background then Paul has a serious problem on his hands. And if no one bothered to vet Hunter, then concerns about the close-knit, amateurish staff will heighten.

Paul has struggled to shed the image his father created of a conspiratorially minded isolationist lacking judgment for high office. This won’t help.

Paul’s office needs to explain how this person got there, whether his views are acceptable to the senator, and what it intends to do about him. But the real question may be what Hunter sees in Paul. If he spots a kindred spirit thinly disguised by careful scripting, voters should pay heed.

In the meantime, it is worth noting that a person with such views and background would not be considered seriously by any other Senate or House office. So why did Paul hire him?

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.
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Jennifer Rubin | July 9, 2013