Step 1: We have a grave crisis which only the government can solve.
Step 2: Then a miracle occurs.
Step 3: Problem solved.
Consider the 1998 "Gnomes" episode -- possibly surpassing Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose" as the classic defense of capitalism -- in which the children of South Park, Colo., get a lesson in how not to run an enterprise from mysterious little men who go about stealing undergarments from the unsuspecting and collecting them in a huge underground storehouse.
What's the big idea? The gnomes explain:
"Phase One: Collect underpants.
"Phase Two: ?
"Phase Three: Profit."
Lest you think there's a step missing here, that's the whole point. ("What about Phase Two?" asks one of the kids. "Well," answers a gnome, "Phase Three is profits!") This more or less sums up Mr. Obama's speech last week on Guantanamo, in which the president explained how he intended to dispose of the remaining detainees after both houses of Congress voted overwhelmingly against bringing them to the U.S.
The president's plan can briefly be described as follows. Phase One: Order Guantanamo closed. Phase Two: ? Phase Three: Close Gitmo!