MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The rabid, vile racism of Trump's former butler at his Florida Mar-a-Lago estate sucked the air out of the news for a few hours yesterday.
According to David Corn of Mother Jones, Anthony Senecal became a part-time "historian" of Mar-a-Lago after his retirement -- although the Trump campaign claims that they don't see each other anymore -- and has spent a lot of time on Facebook posting racist and other contemptible rants, including "express[ing] profound hatred for President Barack Obama and declar[ing] that he should be killed."
CNN posted an article last night that Trump's campaign has "disavowed" Senecal's statement threatening President Obama:
"Tony Senecal has not worked at Mar-a-Lago for years, but nevertheless we totally and completely disavow the horrible statements made by him regarding the President," [Trump] campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said.
Trump really had no choice but to renounce Senecal's threats to the life of the president, because it is a federal crime to encourage a president's assassination. According to CNN, Senecal readily admitted to his recent deadly Facebook screeds:
Anthony Senecal, who served as Trump's butler for 17 years and now takes groups on tours of the presumptive Republican nominee's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday that Obama "should have been taken out by our military and shot as an enemy agent in his first term," according to Mother Jones, which first reported on Senecal's post.
Reached for comment by CNN on Thursday, Senecal, 84, confirmed he wrote the post, but disputed one point, "I think I said hung."
In the Mother Jones piece, Corn cites several reprehensible and odious postings by Senecal, which used a litany of racist expletives and Islamophobic slurs, accused Obama of "waging a war on Christians," and warned that the president was planning to impose martial law.
Trump didn't condemn vituperative and virulent statements by Senecal other than those concerning President Obama. Of course, Trump himself was a champion of the birther movement and challenged Obama in the 2012 election to prove he was not born in Kenya. Trump is also an outspoken demagogue who attacks Muslims as a group, and has said they should not be allowed into the United States.
Corn writes of Senecal's employment and ongoing relationship with Trump:
Senecal, who is 84, says he has been employed at Mar-a-Lago since about 1959. Trump acquired the property in 1985, and Senecal remained on staff. "As [Trump] says, I came with the furniture," Senecal remarks. About seven years later, he became the butler for the celebrity mogul who is now the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee. In 2009, Senecal informed Trump he wanted to resign as butler, and Trump persuaded him to stay on as the in-house historian at Mar-a-Lago. There is no salary for the job, Senecal says, but he makes money leading tours of the estate.
Although Senecal told CNN that he didn't and doesn't tell his ignoble opinions to Trump, that is hard to believe given that they are a debased, despicable and obscene expression of Trump's own views.
Jannell Ross of the Washington Post writes of her skepticism that Senecal and Trump are not still friendly:
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.
The Daily Beast reports that Senecal's detestable and repugnant Facebook posts have not been limited to President Obama. Senecal described Hillary Clinton using deeply sexist slurs. He responded to the protests in Ferguson, Missouri by calling for the "carpet-bombing" of that city, and he posted an image of a Confederate flag on his Facebook page 10 days after the Charleston church massacre.
As of the writing of this commentary, we have not been able to find any further Trump condemnation of Senecal's wide ranging obscene and hateful thoughts than a spokesperson's distancing Trump from Senecal's potential federal crime of, in essence, threatening the life of the president.
Journalist Michael Winship wrote a column this week for Moyers & Company in which he notes the similarities between segregationist George Wallace (who ran in the 1968 presidential campaign) and Donald Trump. He identifies why Senecal may be, at least in foul spirit, considered Donald Trump's alter-ego megaphone on Facebook:
If, as Mark Twain supposedly said, history does not repeat itself but certainly does rhyme, Russell Baker’s description of the state of the union nearly 50 years ago and a Wallace candidacy that’s so very much like Donald Trump’s is as blank verse from the past, reflecting a national mood that today is perhaps even more confused and enraged.
I’m far from the first to draw the parallel. George Wallace’s own daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, recently told National Public Radio that both men have played to our basest instincts. “Trump and my father say out loud what people are thinking but don’t have the courage to say,” she said. “They both were able to adopt the notion that fear and hate are the two greatest motivators of voters that feel alienated from government.”
If Trump says what racists don't have the courage to say on television, then Senecal may be the man who writes on Facebook what Trump feels he cannot pen and still be politically feasible as a presidential candidate.
Trump's campaign has been masterful in churning the news cycle. By tomorrow, it's quite possible that the candidate's relationship for many years with an avowed ignominious and contemptible bigot will become just more flotsam and jetsam in a roiling campaign. However, it is not simply a campaign, but also a spectacle of incendiary scapegoating, which has made crudity and hate the new normal in mainstream media news coverage.
Not to be reposted without the permission of Truthout.