I’d say the left is beginning to see the serious potential of 2016 presidential campaign by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) – one that could crush whatever Democratic nominee is placed before him.
Consequently, the dirt digging has begun. Pre-2016 Democrat opposition work is already riling up media outlets. In today’s sights, we have the new media director for Paul, who is also the coauthor of Paul’s book, a fellow by the name of Jack Hunter. At this point, the best thing Hunter and Rand can do is address the manufactured controversy head on.
Hunter, who is a vocal advocate for his own views apart from the senator’s, has ties to “radical” right wing groups. He explains in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon that he was drawn to such groups in while in college.
The controversial association in question is called the League of the South; Hunter acknowledges he was a chairman for the organization, but says he left it later in the 1990s. He explained that, during his tenure, the group was explicitly not racist, and did not discriminate based upon race. The neo-Confederate group identifies one of their core beliefs as “advocat[ing] the secession and subsequent independence of the Southern States from this forced union and the formation of a Southern republic.”
At the time, Hunter spoke about controversial and disturbing topics such as a racial double-standard, and the assassination of President Lincoln, about which he has since revised his opinion.
“This guy makes Paula Deen look like the chair of the NAACP,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, to the Louisville Courrier-Journal.
In fact, he has renounced many of his past opinions, but he won't be able to shake his reputation easily in the court of public and media opinion. President Barack Obama faced a similar threat to his campaign from the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy. Obama's strategy was simply to distance himself, and denounce Wright's views.
Regardless, the anti-conservative strategists at Media Matters have set their aim on Hunter and highlighted the connection between Hunter and the Daily Caller as well as Fox News. The goal: To bully people into thinking that anyone who identifies with Rand Paul, Jack Hunter, Fox News, or the Daily Caller is a racist Confederate sympathizers.
Another controversial part of Hunter's past comes from a Confederate flag mask, which he wore from 1999 to 2012 while making political commentary under the moniker “Southern Avenger.” Keep in mind, “Confederate” and “secessionist” are being used as code words for "racist" and "pro-slavery" (despite the fact that is was the Republicans who fought against slavery).
The imagery and connotations surrounding Hunter’s background will inevitably be attacked, and bring Paul’s own views into question, justifiably or not.
To some, this news is no surprise. Hinterland Gazette’s Janet Shan responded by writing, “Rand Paul palling around with racists, no surprise there. This is no shock to me. Ron and Rand Paul have always been intertwined with white supremacy. Racist grifters, like father like son.”
Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin points out the inevitable catch-22 for Senator Paul, “Suffice it to say, if anyone in Paul’s office knew of this man’s background, then Paul has a serious problem on his hands. And if no one bothered to vet Hunter, then concerns about the close-knit, amateurish staff will heighten."
There is very little that Hunter can say to be forgiven. My advice to him? Get ahead of it all and denounce the rumors of racism. Hunter needs to be explicit about his views, so that honest reporters will be forced to include his rebuttal to these allegations of racism. If he really is as awful as Media Matters is making him sound, then Paul should obviously drop him from his office. That said, I would guess that many of these talking points are either taken out of context or being blown out of proportion.
Like other attacks on conservatives, the campaign to present Paul and his cohorts as racist will certainly continue. Expect more drama to come. Media Matters has weighed in, and the Democrats are now scrambling to remind Americans that the right should be viewed as racial bullies who are out to deprive the nation of equality.