About a month ago, we learned that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had hired Jack Hunter -- also known as the "Southern Avenger" -- to work in his Senate office, despite Hunter's past as a neo-Confederate, pro-secessionist activist. Indeed, the staffer, who helped write Rand Paul's book, used to make public appearances in a Confederate flag wrestling mask and has boasted that he raises "a personal toast every May 10 to celebrate John Wilkes Booth's birthday."
After Paul acknowledged having mixed feelings about Abraham Lincoln, the senator defended Hunter, saying he was just "a youth" when he wrote ridiculous things. (Hunter was 35 when he was still defending the Confederacy in print columns.) Eventually, Paul accepted Hunter's resignation.
And now he really doesn't want to talk about it.
Paul appeared on NPR's "On Point" yesterday, interviewed by CNBC's John Harwood, and got quite unusually testy when asked about his former aide and co-author, telling Harwood the host didn't want "an intelligent discussion."
When the host read from an item published by The Economist about "racist and nativist" elements within libertarian politics, Paul said, "Don't you have something better to read than a bunch of crap from people who don't like me? I mean that won't make for much of an interview if I have to sit through reading after recitation of people calling me a racist."
Paul added, in reference to Hunter, "If you look at his writings, there are a lot of problems and a lot of disagreements, and none of it do I support, but none of it was racist." There's evidence to the contrary, though I'm not at all sure how Paul would define "racist" when describing the former head of a secessionist group.
In an unfortunate coincidence, around the time Paul was getting angry on NPR when asked about his controversial associations with fringe figures, Alex Jones was boasting on his show about his long-standing friendship with the Republican senator.