The least surprising aspect of this story is the story itself -- are you really surprised that Ron Paul's son has an aide with extremely strong ties to the neo-Confederate movement? The most interesting aspect of the story is the source: the Washington Free Beacon, run by Palin apologist and Bill Kristol son-in-law Matthew Continetti:
A close aide to Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) who co-wrote the senator's 2011 book spent years working as a pro-secessionist radio pundit and neo-Confederate activist, raising questions about whether Paul will be able to transcend the same fringe-figure associations that dogged his father’s political career.I've been thinking that Rand Paul has a pretty good chance of emerging from the scrum in 2016 and nabbing the Republican presidential nomination -- he's clearly trying to appeal to the Snowden-is-awesome crowd while tempering his father's opposition to foreign-policy interventionism just enough to avoid frightening the hawkish GOP base. I thought if he could pull off that balancing act, he could appeal to mainstream Republicans on taxes and abortion and get that little extra boost from the Greenwald readers that would put him over the top in a crowded field.
Paul hired Jack Hunter, 39, to help write his book The Tea Party Goes to Washington during his 2010 Senate run. Hunter joined Paul's office as his social media director in August 2012.
From 1999 to 2012, Hunter was a South Carolina radio shock jock known as the "Southern Avenger." He has weighed in on issues such as racial pride and Hispanic immigration, and stated his support for the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
During public appearances, Hunter often wore a mask on which was printed a Confederate flag....
But in order to do that, he's got to be seen by the mainstream of the GOP as a safe choice, which is something his father never pulled off. This Beacon story tells me that at least part of the right-wing Establishment doesn't think he's even worth considering as a potential 2016 choice.
I think the Beacon feels free to go after Rand not because of the racism, but because a publication run by Bill Kristol's son-in-law is inevitably going to be very, very skeptical of people with isolationist tendencies, even if they're not absolute. I strongly suspect that if Rand were a hawk, this story wouldn't have run.
On the other hand, I agree with Dave Weigel:
Not getting the sense from Rand Paul World that it respects the attack on Jack Hunter. These stories never stick to the Pauls.— daveweigel (@daveweigel) July 9, 2013
@mattyglesias Doesn't force them out of the "conversation." Ron Paul added Lew Rockwell to his new think tank, and he still gets on CNN— daveweigel (@daveweigel) July 9, 2013
The mainstream press is still fascinated by the Pauls. And the young folks who flocked to Poppa Paul never seemed to give a crap about the massive amounts of racism in the newsletters that bore his name. So Rand will win that crowd, and continue to pique the interest of the MSM. But the GOP mainstream may not be willing to give him a tumble.