If Rep. Ron Paul wants to be taken more seriously for the 2012 election, this is not the way to go about it. Dana Milbank reports that at a hearing on the Federal Reserve yesterday, Paul called as his main witness Thomas DiLorenzo, a Southern secessionist who has compared Abraham Lincoln to Adolf Hitler:

DiLorenzo, the congressman told the committee, had called Lincoln “the first dictator” and a “mass murderer” and decreed that “Hitler was a Lincolnite.” Worse, Clay charged, “you worked for a Southern nationalist organization.” “The League of the South is a neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second southern secession and a society dominated by European Americans.”

At the witness table, DiLorenzo scoffed and waved his hand dismissively at Clay. But neither he nor Paul attempted to refute Clay’s allegations.

Milbank approached DiLorenzo after the hearing and asked him about the allegations. The witness responded: “I gave a couple of a lectures to a group of college students 15 years ago that are associated with this thing called League of the South.”

But when Milbank looked into DiLorenzo’s story, there turned out to be a few inconsistencies, to say the very least:

As it turns out, “this thing” called the League of the South Institute was listing DiLorenzo on its Web site as recently as 2008 as an “affiliated scholar.” A secessionist Web site, DumpDC, identified DiLorenzo the same way last year when it published an interview with DiLorenzo in which he is quoted as saying “secession is not only possible but necessary if any part of America is ever to be considered ‘the land of the free’ in any meaningful sense.”

This isn’t the first time Paul has come under fire for his controversial associations. They’ve long been an embarrassment for the Republican Party, and if he wants to maintain his new chairmanship position in Congress, this isn’t the type of behavior that can continue.

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