Jack Hunter Resigns From Rand Paul's Staff and From His Own 'Southern Avenger' Brand


Jack Hunter, the adviser to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) who co-authored Paul's 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington, has resigned from Paul's employ less than two weeks after the Washington Free Beacon reported past statements from Hunter celebrating (among other things) the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Hunter announced to news to his friend, The Daily Caller's W. James Antle, III:

Hunter told The Daily Caller News Foundation that he wanted to avoid being a distraction for Paul and to clear his own name, which he argues is now unfairly associated with racism. […]

"I've long been a conservative, and years ago, a much more politically incorrect (and campy) one," Hunter said in an email. "But there's a significant difference between being politically incorrect and racist. I've also become far more libertarian over the years, a philosophy that encourages a more tolerant worldview, through the lens of which I now look back on some of my older comments with embarrassment." […]

"The stories made me angry, as well as many who've followed my work, because the cherry-picked distortions weren't even remotely the real me," he said. "It was enraging to watch neoconservatives, liberals and even some actual racists speculate about what I believe, based on what they were eager to portray me as believing. Not surprisingly, their speculations almost always suited their own political purposes."

"Still, the moment I became a distraction for Sen. Paul, I knew it was time to leave. My purpose has always been to help, not hinder," Hunter added. Now as he once ditched the mask, he will also discard the Southern Avenger name.

"I also wanted the ability to defend myself in my own voice, not as a member of anyone's staff or even as the 'Southern Avenger' character, which has now been so mischaracterized that I will permanently retire that moniker," Hunter said. […]

"I look forward to returning to just being a pundit and fighting these battles on my own," he said. "The neoconservatives, who first ran and promoted this story, would much rather argue about the Civil War than the Iraq War."

"From their standpoint, and given current trends within the Republican Party," Hunter concluded, "I can't say I blame them."

Antle has more reporting in the article, which you can read here. Antle also profiled Rand Paul for Reason back in the spring of 2010.

This latest example of the libertarian brand being conmingled with neo-Confederate sympathies has occasioned some robust commentary around the Internet; Randy Barnett has some analysis and links over at The Volokh Conspiracy.