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Trump fact sheet says America has 2 defense secretaries and Australia has a president

It’s silly, but beware the brown M&M principle.

In a press release issued today by the White House proclaiming that “In Only Two Weeks, President Trump Delivers on His Promise to Make America Safe Again,” the Trump administration’s press office wrongly stated that John Kelly is secretary of defense (he is secretary of homeland security) and wrongly stated that Trump had spoken on the telephone with the president of Australia (Australia does not have a president, but Trump spoke to their prime minister).

These are small matters, of course, but inattention to detail as a habit can be very consequential.

Van Halen used to famously insist that the band be provisioned before playing a show with bowls of M&Ms from which all the brown M&Ms had been removed. This would be buried in the midst of a longish contract document, and the point wasn’t to be fussy about candy; it was to offer a quick way to check whether the organizers had actually read the thing and paid attention to detail.

Many experts believe that the loose way Trump has organized the executive branch is a recipe for chaos. We certainly saw an awful lot of chaos last weekend at airports, and putting out press releases with this kind of error certainly suggest a large degree of sloppiness.

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