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How will the Thinking Left respond to SiCKO?
Ezra Klein — as David Catron points out in an earlier post — offers a painful explanation of his fondness for the film: it’s not actually about health care, rather it’s a metaphor for “American exceptionalism.” And, yes, as David well points out, this is a surprise to many of us who actually did think the film was about, well, health care (maybe the title and overall medical emphasis contributed to our misunderstanding).
The New Republic’s Jon Cohn — arguably one of the smartest voices on the Left in this debate — is similarly troubled. He explains his own “trepidation” at the beginning of his review:
“My bias in watching Moore’s film is that, in the broad sense, I agree with him. I’ve been writing about the flaws of the U.S. health care system, and the need for universal health insurance, for nearly a decade now. (And, yes, I recently wrote a book with almost the exact same title as Moore’s movie — Sick — although I’m pretty sure I thought of it first.) But Moore has not always been the most intellectually rigorous storyteller — or, for liberals, the most useful ally.”
Cohn, who knows these issues so well, sees the flaws of SiCKO:
“I spotted plenty of intellectual dishonesties and arguments without context — enough, surely, to keep right-wing truth squads (and some left-wing ones) busy for weeks.”
So how does Cohn respond to a film that minimizes any and all problems with Canadian, British and — even! — Cuban health care?
“Still, by the time the final credits ran, it was hard to get too worked up about all of that. Because, beyond all the grandstanding and political theater, the movie actually made a compelling, argument about what’s wrong with U.S. health care and how to fix it. Sicko got a lot of the little things wrong. But it got most of the big things right.”
Well, not so little.