This week we learned that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had hired Jack Hunter, an avowed secessionist with a history of anti-minority statements. Not only does Paul continue to employ him and refuse to renounce or even to comment on Hunter’s views but, according to Hunter, Paul was fully aware of his views and reputation when he first hired Hunter to co-write a book.

Rand Paul
Sen. Rand Paul (James Crisp/Associated Press)

Even worse for Paul was Hunter’s accusation that his extremism has found a home with the senator, who has “learned to play the game,” such as declaring that an attack on Israel would be an attack on the United States. With a few “rhetorical flourishes,” he said, Rand Paul is more respectable than his father, Ron, and can thereby get farther in politics. That is precisely the concern that many center-right observers had in trying to decipher Rand Paul: namely, that he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

What is interesting is the reaction of those who supported, cheered and hired Hunter for his avowed views — views from which he is now trying to distance himself.

The Washington Free Beacon first reported that Hunter wrote for Taki’s Magazine, a Web site, then edited by Richard Spencer, that was open to harangues against minorities (one of which, by John Derbyshire, got him canned from his more prominent perch at National Review Online)

In reviewing Hunter’s Southern Avenger Web site today, we found a number of podcasts with such titles as “a discussion on the 9-11 Truth movement, John Birch Society, populism and the ‘conspiratorial’ Right’ ” from 2009. However, none of the podcasts can be accessed, leaving us in the dark as to Hunter’s most candid views. What remains are a few written pieces: for example, decrying neoconservatism (a favorite target of Rand Paul). Where are the rest?

Spencer now heads the avowedly white supremacist National Policy Institute. Yesterday he put up a long, rambling video, discussing his long association with Hunter and relating that he produced “hundreds” of pieces and podcasts for Taki.  Where those are now available, he does not say. But for nearly half of his diatribe, Spencer picks up on Hunter’s “playing the game” theme in relation to both Hunter and Paul. He is none too pleased about it. In his mind, people who cloak their real beliefs are “cowards” and should come right out and spell out their views, as did Paul’s father, who dabbled in conspiracy theories and put out a racist newsletter under his name. Spencer declares, “Rand Paul does play the game. He tries to alienate traditional conservatives a lot less.” But he deplores Rand Paul’s efforts at getting along as “ham-fisted.”

Others who peddle in these views appear to be equally dismayed. We see out on Twitter a smattering of racist tweets bemoaning Hunter for backing away from his previous views.

What does this tell us? Hunter and people who know him the best have told us what many long suspected: Under Rand Paul’s veneer of respectability is another, far more radical figure, not inside the mainstream of conservatism but one who is “playing the game.” The fact that Hunter is still in Paul’s employ and that Paul won’t repudiate any of his aide’s  views suggests they are on to something.

Paul is not only taking heat from the media; Jewish groups whom he tried to woo are castigating him. So much for his pro-Israel campaign.

At the very least, Rand Paul owes it to voters to explain himself and his relationship with Hunter. This also suggests he’ll be a poor ambassador to minority communities, whom he said he’ll reach out to, given not only his past criticism of the Civil Rights Act but also his embrace of the Southern Avenger.

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