Senator Rand Paul has always been closely associated with tea parties in the course of his political career. In 2007, his father held the very first tea party before it was cool. He was elected to Congress in the 2010 tea party wave. So it is fair to call Senator Paul a favorite son of the movement. But like his father, Rand has also been associated with the fringe elements, extremists, and conspiracy nuts who push conservative politics rightward from outside the Republican Party. This weekend, the Washington Free Beacon reported that Rand Paul is still palling around with white supremacist Jack Hunter.
Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) is scheduled to speak at an upcoming libertarian conference along with his former aide, Jack Hunter, who left Paul’s office amid controversy over his past career as a neo-Confederate shock jock nicknamed the “Southern Avenger.”
Hunter, who has distanced himself from the “Southern Avenger” persona since resigning from Paul’s office, will speak at the Young Americans for Liberty state convention at the University of South Carolina on March 22. Hunter is currently a contributing editor at “conservative” site Rare.
Paul is slated to give an address over Skype during the same session, according to a schedule posted on the YAL website.
Paul has also endorsed conspiracy theories involving UN treaties and hangs out with 9/11 truthers, so we cannot simply dismiss this as an aberration. He has always responded to uncomfortable realities like this one by demanding that we respect his own alternative reality. For example, after Paul was caught plagiarizing WikiPedia in his speeches last year, he ended his regular column with the Washington Times and began posting it at Breitbart.com, the beating heart of right wing epistemology and a place where readers will not care if his words are unoriginal. Years before that, Paul decided that he did not care for the American Board of Ophthalmology’s recertification requirements, so he created his own fictitious ophthalmology association and recertified himself. Dissonance with reality is a feature of Rand Paul, not a bug.
That may work fine with voters in Republican primaries, but it will cause problems for Rand Paul in a general election. When the Senate failed to reach an agreement to continue extended unemployment benefits in January, ThinkProgress ran this very interesting quote from a long-term unemployed man:
Peter LeClair, an out of work investment manager from New York, said he has been a lifelong Republican. But he “will never vote for a Republican, as long as I live” after watching them say that relying on unemployment benefits makes people dependent. “I am incensed with this Rand Paul,” he said, who has said extending the benefits would “do a disservice” to those who were relying on them. “He says I am lazy… I am not lazy, how dare he. He doesn’t even know me.”
Paul’s views on employment did not extend to his ghostwriter. When Jack Hunter was first revealed to be the “Southern Avenger,” Paul refused to fire him and denied that his aide held white supremacist views. Hunter eventually resigned as his social media director to “end the distraction,” whereupon Rand Paul declared that he would just not talk about it anymore.
“Don’t you have anything better — don’t you have something better to read than a bunch of crap from people who don’t like me? That won’t make for much of an interview if I have to sit through … recitation of people calling me a racist,” Paul said, clearly agitated about the line of questions. “I don’t accept all of that, and I don’t really need to or spend the time talking about all of that. If you want to talk about issues and what I stand for, I’m happy to, but I’m not going to go through an interview reciting or respond to every yahoo in the world who wants to throw up a canard.”
Rand Paul would like everyone to ignore the obvious, please. Instead of dwelling on his plagiarism, or his white supremacist ghostwriter, or his actual views on the Civil Rights Act, or his votes to cut long-term unemployment benefits, Rand Paul would have us pay attention to his libertarian ideas about smaller government and deregulation. But it is hard to ignore the neoconfederate hatemonger in the room when Paul is pandering to the crowd within by using the same tired, moralistic language of resentment politics.
Rand Paul learns no lessons. He never sees fit to change his own behavior or question his own views, but instead he orders the universe to his liking and insists that everyone accept his substitute reality. We usually call such people deluded, or narcissists…unless we call them “senator.”
Video: Rand Paul tells a historically black college audience that the Republican Party is “not hostile to civil rights.”