In my review of Sicko, I argued that while in the past Michael Moore has had an easy time winning converts in Europe, it's going to be a harder slog with this film. Denouncing the Iraq War and calling Americans, which he clearly doesn't count himself among, stupid ("They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet," he told the Daily Mirror) is easy; convincing Brits that the NHS provides flawless, wait-free medical care—for free!—strains credulity. The New Yorker's David Denby thinks Moore will have difficulty convincing Americans too (Hat tip to Alan Vanneman):
Michael Moore has teased and bullied his way to some brilliant highs in his career as a political entertainer, but he scrapes bottom in his new documentary, "Sicko."
Moore winds up treating the audience the same way that, he says, powerful people treat the weak in America-as dopes easily satisfied with fairy tales and bland reassurances. And since he doesn't interview any of the countless Americans who have been mulling over ways to reform our system, we're supposed to come away from "Sicko" believing that sane thinking on these issues is unknown here. In the actual political world, the major Democratic Presidential candidates have already offered, or will soon offer, plans for reform. A shift to the left, or, at least, to the center, has overtaken Michael Moore, yielding an irony more striking than any he turns up: the changes in political consciousness that Moore himself has helped produce have rendered his latest film almost superfluous.
Speaking with my friend in Dublin today, I inquired about his level of satisfaction with Irish health services. He replied with an anecdote: The last time he required medical attention was for a broken arm, for which he was fitted with a standard plaster cast. After a few days the cast, which was apparently constructed from recycled copies of the Irish Sun, began to fall apart. He returned to the hospital for a replacement but, after waiting in the emergency room for nine hours, decided instead to head home and piece it together with DIY tape. The Irish system, he said, was "a mess."
Andrew Sullivan's Canadian readers chime in here.
There is, of course, much to say in response to Moore's deification of the Cuban system, though I think these pictures, published in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, will suffice for now. They were taken at a nursing home in the Cuban province of Pinar del Río in June 2004:
More photos here.