Thursday, June 21, 2007

Prognosis Excellent

The instant reviews of “Sicko,” Michael Moore’s new movie, are beginning to trickle onto the Web. Eric Alterman, who has taken his “Altercation” blog from to Media Matters, calls it “by far Moore’s best film: good humored, compelling, and, amazingly, it’s actually fun.”

David Corn, Washington editor for The Nation, agrees that “Sicko” is “the best film in the Moore canon.” “It’s not as tendentious as his earlier works,” Corn writes on Capital Games, his blog for The Nation. “It posits no conspiracy theories. The film skillfully blends straight comedy, black humor, tragedy, and advocacy. You laugh, you cry — literally. And you get mad.” (In 2004, Corn wrote in a Capital Games post that Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” was “overly conspiratorial” as well as “problematic and self-defeating.”)

On his personal blog, Corn adds of “Sicko”: “It does not reveal what most Americans don’t already know. But the film — quite moving in some parts, quite funny in others — presents a well-crafted indictment and diagnosis of a sick, sick system.”

Economist and libertarian Arnold Kling worries that Alterman and Corn are right about the film’s effectiveness, despite what he perceives as its flaws. “I found the movie to be very non-threatening intellectually, because it was so obviously one-sided,” Kling writes at his blog, EconLog. “Contrasting French yuppies with American homeless people does not really prove anything.” Still, Kling says:

On the other hand, it could have a tremendous political effect. The woman next to me broke down and wept during a scene in which a group of Cuban firefighters salutes three 9/11 rescue workers brought by Moore to Cuba for treatment. My guess is that this woman’s reaction to the film was more typical than mine.

Chris Suellentrop


Even Less Confidence in Congress

A new Gallup poll indicates that a record-low 14 percent of Americans have confidence in Congress, which puts Congress alongside H.M.O.s at the bottom of Gallup’s Confidence in Institutions rankings. National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru warns Republicans not to get too giddy about these numbers. He writes at The Corner: “Republicans should not get too gleeful about this finding. If the public is just unhappy with all the politicians, they may take it out on the party they perceive to be in power — and that is still the Republicans.”

  • The many faces of moderation: The Wall Street Journal editorial page says Michael Bloomberg and his fans are wrong to believe “that there is a large American center unserved by our two-party system.” Instead, there are many small centers that are often in conflict:

    This is not to say that there aren’t plenty of moderates in America, but moderation takes many forms. Antigun, pro-gay-rights, vaguely pro-business (but tax increasing) Mike Bloomberg is one sort. Pro-gun, economically populist Jon Tester, the junior Senator from Montana, is another, different sort. Pro-war Democrat Joe Lieberman is yet another kind. Their differences from each other are at least as important as their supposed moderateness.

    Chris Suellentrop
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