It's hard to say after any political campaign what the victor will do. So many promises, and so many questions about which are serious intentions and which were thrown out to get a few more votes.

In Trump's case, the problem is more serious. It's too late to say that he has no political experience. He won a presidential election. However, it is still possible to say that he has no governmental experience.

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It was a surprise to read that he had never met Barack Obama prior to the election. That such a rich and prominent entrepreneur had never been in the Obama White House helps to define how much of an outsider is the President-elect.



Republican majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives will help the new President, but will not assure that he gets anything close to what may be inferred from what among his one-liners in the campaign will become his agenda.

The Republican Party is nowhere close to being united, with Senators and Members of the House ranging across a spectrum from Tea Party to what are called Rockefeller or Main Street Republicans, with a number of them having expressed discomfort at the prospect of a Trump presidency.

Donald will have to shop for support in his own party, and try crossing the lines to top up what he gets with Democrats who might be attracted with goodies for their districts or other payoffs that are typically how presidents buy what they can get.

His opposition to the Iran deal will have to cope with it anchored in an international agreement. His slogan about doing away with Obama's health insurance has already come up against Republican voters who depend on an insurance policy tied to it. The complexities in managing a reform of Obamacare may take enough White House energy to get in the way of implementing other campaign promises.

The wholesale deportation of illegal immigrants is easier said than done, especially for the many with American-born children.

Trump may appoint Justices to the Supreme Court, but may never get control of District and Appellate Courts that deal with the vast majority of cases.

Right wing Israelis can't stop expressing their certainty of victory. The head of Jewish Home declared an end to the idea of a Palestinian state. A Jerusalem politician with responsibility for construction said he could build thousands of new apartments in areas of Jerusalem where construction has been severely limited due to pressure from the Obama administration. Settlers seeking to block the removal of a tiny settlement doomed by a decision of Israel's Supreme Court have pledged to attract thousands to what may become a violent struggle to keep the settlement in place. Several politicians have expressed their certainty that the American Embassy will finally move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite the hoary posture of the State Department (and many other countries' Foreign Offices) that Jerusalem is not an Israeli city.

Expressions by Palestinians and other Muslims are understandably subdued.

However, we shouldn't expect slam dunk victories for Israeli rightists. 

Among other things, Trump has signaled his intention of reducing the US prominence overseas. The Middle East has come in for his sharpest comments, calling it a region that is sure to frustrate outsiders who are foolish enough to meddle in it. Yet he also says that he'll work for a solution of the Palestinian-Israeli problem. 

Even if Trump stops the Obama drum beats in favor of Palestinian statehood, that's a long way from  Israelis' freedom to do what they want with respect to the West Bank or even East Jerusalem. European governments may not be firmly in the Palestinian camp, but they won't be happy with the prospect of further unrest caused by the unlimited passions of Israeli rightists.

There will also remain Israelis' pragmatic opposition to the religious and nationalist right, seeing it as provoking Arab unrest that will undue years of seeking accommodation.

There are indications, perhaps on the optimistic side of things, that Donald Trump is above all a pragmatist. There are some who see his brazen and primitive campaign style as a conscious tactic to appeal to what he perceived as substantial distrust of the upper crust liberal establishment, with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as its presenters-in-chief.

If there is a pragmatic side to Trump's administration, Israel's enthusiastic religious nationalists will learn that they cannot implement all of their wishes. Perhaps not even most of them. Balance of interests and accommodations with opponents are at the center of the pragmatist's strategy. If they are prominent in how Trump governs, they will affect US postures to overseas matters, including the Middle East and Israel, as well as the domestic American scene.

The institutions of American government will press Trump in the pragmatic direction. It's doubtful that his kind of Republicans will dominate both Houses of Congress, be in control of the senior professional positions in the bureaucracy or courts, or dominate all the state and local authorities (there are more than 87,000) that decide about much of what Americans receive from their governments.

There are reports about bitter struggles among Trump's advisers, and between them and individuals who fancy themselves Republican party leaders, over control of the transition and key appointments to the new administration.

This is also an occasion to recall what many Germans expressed about Hitler before they fled or were killed, i.e., that he couldn't possibly believe all the nonsense that he proclaimed in order to win election.

The rioting against the election results also recalls the uprising of the German left, which figured into the repression by Hitler's forces. Some observers even see seriousness in the California movement to separate from the United States. Such innocents should remember what happened to the Confederacy a century and one-half ago.

And we should not forget that Donald Trump joins a long list of Presidents thought to be unsuited for the task. Dealing only with the 20th century onward, they include Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Ronald Reagan, George W.. Bush, and Barack Obama. Politics matters in the selection of candidates for such a list, and politics will remain prominent in ongoing views about Donald Trump.

There are lots of uncertainties, that will be with Americans and the rest of us for some time.

Comments welcome, from both the certain and the uncertain.

-- 
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Irashark@gmail.com 

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of The Jerusalem Post. Blog authors are NOT employees, freelance or salaried, of The Jerusalem Post.

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