Once again I yesterday caught part of Oprah Winfrey’s eponymous show (see: TiVo, girlfriend), but I was given pause by the fact that filmmaker Michael Moore was her first guest (reclusive author Cormac McCarthy was the other interview, involving a roadie to New Mexico for Oprah). The subject, of course, was Moore’s forthcoming documentary about the American health care system, Sicko, which premiered at the recent Cannes Film Festival, and is set to bow Stateside on June 29, from the Weinstein Company.
For today, at least, Moore was in the form of more of a plaintive wheedler than a Cuban-beach-storming firebrand (incidentally, I believe that bit of pre-release flogging is why Martin Lawrence, Will Smith and Michael Bay will respond to the movie), and it worked. Among the more compelling footage shown was a clip from the Congressional testimony of a contrite Dr. Linda Peeno, who talked movingly about the great career benefits she gained as a managed care adjustor denying claims she knew to be legitimate, including one that eventually directly led to a man’s death. With President Bush’s popularity hovering at all-time record low levels, and even massive chunks of his base disgusted with his leadership in Iraq and on matters of immigration, it will be interesting to see if Sicko can punch through partisan chatter and add health care to the national political debate, particularly since Senator Barack Obama has now outlined his own health care overhaul, coming on the heels of former Senator John Edwards’ detailed plan. One positive sign — Oprah’s already planning to flag the issue for continued web site dialogue and future show updates, meaning its flames won’t soon turn to embers.