— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) May 12, 2016
There are Americans — some of them Trump voters and some of whom write about Trump voters for a living — who have all but bent themselves into pretzels over the course of the Trump campaign. They've tried to find a label for Trump's way of thinking that Trump and his voters will not find offensive.
There is an ultra-rich kind of irony in that strenuous effort, since Trump and many of his voters have repeatedly expressed nothing but love for political incorrectness and all forms of speech that seek to or ultimately do offend.
So allow us a moment for this unvarnished truth.
There is really very little in the way of interpretation necessary when reading the Facebook feed of one Anthony Senecal, former butler and estate historian to Donald Trump. Senecal maintains a social media feed that has drawn the attention of the Secret Service because on Wednesday Senecal updated it with a post suggesting that President Obama, whom he usually refers to as "zero" or "0," should be killed. He paired it with a kind-of-endorsement for Trump.
But it's the whole of Senecal's Facebook page that probably does merit the rest of Americans' time and interest. In addition to Thursday's threat and the Secret Service investigation it launched, it reveals a mind full of serious suspicion and enmity for the president, his wife, and, as Senecal often puts it, "Negroes" and Muslims. There are an unusual number of posts that make reference to the president and his wife, the president's private parts, lynching, and the various and sundry policy issues — and that's being generous here — on which Senecal disagrees with Obama. And then, there are the many, many American problems — some real, and some rooted in conspiracy theory — for which Senecal blames Obama.
And Senecal told Mother Jones, the liberal magazine that broke the story Thursday, that yes, it's true. He wrote every word and believes it.
Look at Senecal's social media feed, and it reads very much like a man of 1716 somehow got hold of the Internet. Hope Hicks, Trump's campaign spokeswoman, told The Fix that Senecal hasn't been employed by Trump since 2009. "[N]evertheless, we totally and completely disavow the horrible statements made by him regarding the president."
Okay. But, there's just one other recurrent feature of Senecal's many, many screeds that just so happens to correspond with the public comments, television interviews and claims that paved the way for Trump's current White House run.
Senecal is a birther among birthers — believing that Obama was born abroad, is a secret Muslim masquerading as a Christian and that this combination renders the president illegitimate. And while Trump has "disavowed" Senecal's social media content, it's difficult to totally separate the two.
Beginning in 2011, Trump was, for all practical purposes, the nation's birther-in-chief. Trump bankrolled or at least told reporters that he bankrolled a private investigation into Obama's birthplace and birth records and took just about every media opportunity possible to raise questions about the president's birthplace.
Senecal had, by then, not been The Donald's technical employee for two years, according to Hicks. This makes a March New York Times profile of Senecal, which more than hints at an ongoing contact with Trump and singular knowledge of all Trump's tastes and preferences, a little confusing. Hicks hasn't responded to questions from The Fix about that or what, if any, of their shared suspicions of Obama that Senecal and Trump have discussed. But the idea that these men — who according to the New York Times have known one another for 30 years — haven't done so is also more than a little bit hard to believe.
What two men, an employer and employee or former employer and former employee, discuss is also not usually a matter of national interest. But Trump is the presidential candidate who kicked off his presidential campaign 11 months ago with a screed of his own.
Need we remind you that "they are criminals, they are rapists," ranked among the things Trump had to say about Mexican illegal immigrants in his presidential announcement speech? Need we remind you that the same candidate went on to suggest an end to birthright citizenship, that Muslim immigration to the United States should be temporarily banned and internment camps for Muslim Americans may be a necessity?
Trump has run a campaign seasoned with some of the same flavor as Senecal's social media feed — often generously. And, here's the truth that is even more damning: It is a taste that millions of Americans quite clearly appreciate.