Donald Trump is sending mixed messages, some of them more troubling than others.

 
Americans might wonder why others are paying attention.
 
The answer is simple. The US aspires to influence the world, or at least large parts of it. And large parts of the world aspire to be helped, protected, left alone, or be led by the US example. Those feelings may not reflect any great admiration of the US, but just that it is likely to be a more responsive actor on the world stage than likely competitors.
 
Soothing words heard from Trump reflect his winding down from the shrill rhetoric of the campaign. He won't bother with criminal charges against Hillary Clinton, and thereby he removes one potential political and media circus that could get in the way of other matters. , 
 
He's also been talking about repairing the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) rather than doing away with it altogether.
 
Repair won't be easy. He'll be wrestling with insurance companies, as well as physicians who oppose regulation and Americans who don't like to pay for someone else's care. However, the effort recognizes that the program, while far from ideal, has brought some degree of medical care to lots of people. Like Social Security from the 1930s onward for several decades, the program will continue to provoke die hard individualists, but it will resist efforts to reduce benefits that it provides to many voters.
 
One can wonder about the efforts of the tiny Green Party, led by an anti-Israel Jew, to count again some of the votes in key states, and the association of Clintonites to the effort. Also in the wind are hopes to convince some Republican electors to vote against Trump. 
 
Should none of that change what's scheduled for January 20th, the bizarre elements of the Trump persona seem likely to assure periodic proposals to impeach him for something or other.
 
If the votes are potentially there in the House and Senate, the Constitution makes it easy. The criteria are "high crimes and misdemeanors," which suggests actions as minor as lying or failing to obey a traffic cop. Bill Clinton's impeachment rested on the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. What politician reaching significant office hasn't been accused of something equivalent?
 
With respect to the flurry about Richard Nixon, then House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford said, "An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history."
 
Trump's fabrication of reality may not qualify for perjury if he doesn't make those statements under oath, but some of them suggest incitement to violence. In this category is a claim that millions of Hillary's votes were cast illegally, which may have emerged from Trump's worrying about a recount that could tip the results. It recalls his earlier refusal to provide a blanket acceptance of election results if he was not the winner.
 
The Internet provides an easy platform for conspiracy theorists. Oliver Wendell Holmes' pronouncement that the freedom of speech does not allow one to yell "fire" in a crowded theater is not relevant. The Internet also provides for debunkers who demand proof of claims about evil doing, then ridicule its absence. Donald Trump has made himself popular with those calling foul, liar, and fool.
 
The President-elect is in the middle of this digital brouhaha as an active Twitterer, and we can expect his audience to grow when he continues Twitting as President. 
 
Should President Trump continue with his outlandish nonsense from the Oval Office, he might have more to worry from unhappy Republicans than from aspiring Greens or Clinton Democrats.
 
Trump's came into the Republican primaries as an outsider, and unseated established office holders Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. His campaign brought forth declared abstentions or nasty comments from the senior Bushes and Mitt Romney. The prospects of a Romney Cabinet appointment has riled the folks around Trump in a way that suggests that the Grand Old Party is a long way from being healed.
 
The Vice President elect, Mike Pence, is much more a part of the party establishment than Donald Trump. Those dreaming of an impeachment after January might have a better chance than those dreaming of turning things around via the electors.
 
There are signs that Trump will be a hands off President in the model of Ronald Reagan. Yet Reagan led a union of politically contentious actors, then eight years as Governor of California. 
 
Trump has nothing like that. 
 
He showed that he could excite voters in a campaign, but--not yet--that he can govern them. 
 
He may spend more time Twitting than with the details of public policy or international affairs. 
 
There are also concerns that he'll spend time on his international businesses, and mix commercial concerns with his presidential job.
 
He's made comments about separating self and family from business before taking office, but it's a large family and a complex set of businesses.
 
His apparent disinterest in the details of a security briefing also makes his choices of key appointees more relevant than usual. So far it seems that his government will be in the hands of individuals with more experience in politics than Trump, but from far enough on the right of the Republican spectrum to worry a number of Republicans as well as Democrats, and foreigners who see themselves dependent on what happens in Washington. 
 
The US is likely to remain at least as prominent on the world stage as in the most recent eight years. It'll stay weighty due to economics, and Trump may not downsize official credibility below where it got due to Obama's withdrawal from confrontations and the ridicule produced by his soothing ignorance. 
 
Indications from Wall Street suggest that investors are happy with the prospect of a Republican administration. Appetites may also reflect the prospect of a no rules apply to me entrepreneur at the top.
 
There are promises of cuts in taxes and regulations. That'll cause celebration among Republicans and on Wall Street. However, doing away with a free trade agreement will be more complex. It'll go against the enthusiasm of some Republicans, depending on where their money is invested. 
 
Continuing comments about Cuba may help the President in South Florida. The wall against Mexican migrants will help with America First ideologues, but not among Californians, Texans, Arizonans, and others needing people to wash their cars and cut their laws. 
 
There's a lot to ponder, and reasons to comment.
 
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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