In the cartoon series South Park, there is a classic episode titled "Gnomes." In that episode, a high-strung, over-caffeinated boy named Tweek is freaked out when gnomes repeatedly sneak into his bedroom at night to steal his underpants from his dresser. Tweek tells his fellow grade-school friends about the gnomes, but they don't believe him.
Then one night when some classmates are all over at Tweek's house very late working on a school report, they witness the gnomes in action. They follow the gnomes back to their underground operation and ask the obvious question: Why are you stealing underpants?
The gnomes tell the boys that they are business experts and collecting underpants is the first step of a three-phase plan:
Step 1: Collect underpants
Step 2: ?
Step 3: Profit!
The boys are curious to know, "What is Step 2?" The gnomes discuss this among themselves and conclude they don't really know. There is a pause, but then they reaffirm that they are in fact business experts and cheerfully get back to working on their plan.
Earlier this week, Donald Trump was in Detroit to give a speech on his economic plan. Hillary Clinton was in Michigan Thursday to lay out her plan. I can't address Clinton's speech directly (it was after my deadline), but I can assume that like Trump’s, it was short on "Step 2" details. I get it. There are few motivations for presidential candidates to provide specifics — they will get picked apart.
But the Trump speech sounded very much like the gnomes' plan, especially by including that old "let's put a moratorium on regulations" chestnut. In fact, his whole campaign has been extremely lacking in how he plans to do the things he says he wants to do. ("Believe me, believe me" doesn't count as a plan.) To be fair, in his business world Trump does sometimes have a Step 2, which is "declare bankruptcy."
But in Michigan, Flint’s water has shown us what can happen when politicians skip over Step 2.
John Auchter is an editorial cartoonist. Views expressed in his cartoons are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.