In an interview with John Harwood on NPR, Rand Paul reacted with frustration to continued questions about his choice of Jack Hunter to be his director of new media. Hunter resigned in July amid criticism of his former membership in the neo-Confederate group, the League of the South, and his radio persona, the Southern Avenger.
When Harwood asked Paul about Hunter, Paul cut him off and among other things said:
Why don’t we talk about Rand Paul, I’m the one doing the interview. You can go ahead and beat up on an ex-employee of mine, but why don’t we talk about Rand Paul and what I’m trying to do to grow the party, and then we might have an intelligent discussion.
To me, this seems like a typical political dodge. The interviewer wanted to talk about the Rand Paul who hired the Southern Avenger with ties to the neo-Confederate movement. Is hiring a League of the South member part of those efforts to “grow the party?” If so, what kind of growth are you seeking?
The interviewer made an effort to stay with the topic but was eventually shouted down by Paul. In listening to the interview, my impression is that Paul is going to have a hard on the presidential campaign trail if he can’t handle questions about his decision making regarding important staff.
Paul said Jack Hunter wrote a lot of stupid stuff but none of it was racist as if the absence of racism is the only measure of a good staff selection. It doesn’t commend Paul’s management style to say he hired a guy with a resume full of stupid stuff.
I suppose racism is in the eye of the beholder, but I think many would wonder about the racial attitudes of a guy who wore a Confederate flag as a mask. Whether one could call Hunter’s views on white persecution racist or paranoid is a matter for discussion. My point here is not to call Hunter or Paul a racist, but it is to say that Paul’s lack of discernment is a major concern and one that is only heightened by his defensive response to questions about his judgment.