The Southern Avenger Quits Rand Paul's Office. "It Was Completely My Decision," He Says.

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 22 2013 2:27 PM

The Southern Avenger Quits Rand Paul's Office. "It Was Completely My Decision," He Says.

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Better now than 2015

Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

Less than two weeks after Alana Goodman dug through the pro-Confederacy, anti-Lincoln record of Rand Paul's social media guru Jack Hunter, the man still-sort-of-known as the Southern Avenger has resigned.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

"It was completely my decision," Hunter told me. He also pulled out of a Young Americans for Liberty forum with Paul and other senators, scheduled for later this month, because he "didn't want to be a distraction there, either."

The situation has created a conundrum for those of us who argued that "Rand Paul won't get rid of his neo-Confederate co-author." When the Hunter story came out (quite an embarrassment to the people who'd been profiling Paul for months, and not mentioning this), I noted that Paul's circle saw it has a hit piece. That's still true, and that's why Paul didn't actively get rid of Hunter two weeks ago. "Are we at a point," he asked, "where nobody can have had a youth or said anything untoward?"

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Paul wouldn't throw his aide under the bus, so Hunter located the treads himself, after the cameras went away. Looking back I should have added that this story would have been tougher for Paul if it appeared in December 2015, and that Hunter wasn't going to stick around forever. I'm surprised it happened this quickly, but reminded of how Barack Obama handled the controversy over Jeremiah Wright. Remember the timeline.

March 2008. ABC News is the first network to notice that, hey, there are plenty of tapes of the pastor at Barack Obama's church saying "God damn America" and "US of KKK." After a couple of days, Obama responds with a speech that insists he can "no more renounce" Wright than he can his white grandmother.

April 2008. Wright appears before live media for the first time since the ABC story, giving two speeches in which he basically reiterates everything, adding nice details like the differences between the ways white people and black people clap along to music. Obama makes no on-camera response, but issues a curt statement about how he disagrees with this.

May 2008. The day—the day!—that Obama locks up the Democratic nomination, he leaves Trinity United, giving a pre-emptive general election answer to any more Wright questions.

Paul did something similar, in effect, though Hunter was willing to offer himself up as a sacrifice.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.