Southern Avenger no more: Rand Paul aide Jack Hunter leaves staff, returns to punditry

“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.

In addition to any fallout for Rand Paul’s political future, the controversy raises philosophical questions for conservatives and libertarians.

“Nothing in American history has done more harm to the limited government cause than the association of state sovereignty arguments with defenses of slavery,” wrote Philip Klein in the Washington Examiner. “Confederates who employed limited government arguments to argue for preserving a brutal and inhumane practice shouldn’t be deemed friends of limited government.”

Hunter maintains he is now freer to join these debates.

“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.”

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