PG 147: North and South Korea Meet, Macron Goes to Washington, How Special of a Special Election in Arizona?, Ronnie Jackson Withdraws, and the Scott Pruitt’s “Secret Science”

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This week Trey and Mike host together for the first time in a number of episodes. Picking up with one of last week’s topics the hosts discuss the meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea. Trey and Mike both agree the meeting was important, but it was a show over a substantive policy meeting. Despite the need for caution, both are weakly optimistic about the future. The devil will be in the substantive policy details, especially in the meaning of “complete denuclearization.”

The conversation then turned domestic as Trey and Mike examined Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to the U.S. The hosts argued that President Macron was trying to simultaneously highlight his personal relationship with President Trump while pushing for Trump to concede on a few important policy points. Trey and Mike spend time discussing those policy points, including Syria. tariffs, and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The Trey and Mike didn’t agree on each of these issues and, on Syria, both took opposite policy positions.

The conversation then shifted to the Arizona special election. Both hosts, as political scientists, agree that the actual campaign is generally not the best variable in understanding elections. They discuss how much of the current wave of Democratic inroads is due to over arching structural variables and how much of it is explained by a post-Trump Republican Party.

Next Trey and Mike briefly analyze Dr. Ronnie Jackson’s withdraw from consideration as head of the VA. Trey and Mike agree that the vague accusations were not the right grounds for this to occur, they were simply the “sexiest” news items. Instead the more important, and theoretically boring issue, was the experience to lead such a large organization. That, unfortunately, was not the conversation the American people had.

Finally Trey and Mike have little positive to say about Scott Pruitt. Trey argues, and Mike agreed, that Pruitt has two majors issues: 1) a rule change on “secret science” and 2) a series of potential ethical lapses concerning spending. The hosts, as scientists themselves, spend time explaining why some science requires privacy for participants and the importance of the peer-review process. As for the ethical violations, the problem is everyone is for fiscal conservatism when it is brandished as a weapon, but not so interested in it when in power.

What Trey is Reading

A River in the Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea. Masaji Ishikawa.

What Mike is Reading

Mencken: The American Iconoclast. Marion Elizabeth Rogers.

Notes on Democracy. H. L. Mencken.

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