You might have read the stories about filmmaker Michael Moore taking ailing workers from Ground Zero in Manhattan to Cuba for free medical treatments. According to reports, he filmed the trip for a new movie that bashes America for not having government-provided health care.
Now, I have no expectation that Moore is going to tell the truth about Cuba or health care. I defend his right to do what he does, but Moore's talent for clever falsehoods has been too well documented. Simply calling his movies documentaries rather than works of fiction, I think, may be the biggest fiction of all.
While this PR stunt has obviously been successful -- here I am talking about it -- Moore's a piker compared to Fidel Castro and his regime. Moore just parrots the story they created -- one of the most successful public relations coups in history. This is the story of free, high quality Cuban health care.
The truth is that Cuban medical care has never recovered from Castro's takeover -- when the country’s health care ranked among the world's best. He won the support of the Cuban people by promising to replace Batista’s dictatorship with free elections, and to end corruption. Once in power, though, he made himself dictator and instituted Soviet-style Communism. Cubans not only failed to regain their democratic rights, their economy plunged into centrally planned poverty.
As many as half of Cuba's doctors fled almost immediately -- and defections continue to this day. Castro won't allow observers in to monitor his nation's true state, but defectors tell us that many Cubans live with permanent malnutrition and long waits for even basic medical services. Many treatments we take for granted aren't available at all -- except to the Communist elite or foreigners with dollars.
For them, Castro keeps "show" clinics equipped with the best medicines and technologies available. It was almost certainly one of these that Moore went to, if the stories in the NY Post and The Daily News are true.
Nothing about this story inspires doubt, though. Elements in Hollywood have been infatuated with the Cuban commander for years. It always leaves me shaking my head when I read about some big-time actor or director going to Cuba and gushing all over Castro. And, regular as rain, they bring up the health care myth when they come home.
What is it that leads people to value theoretically "free" health care, even when it's lousy or nonexistent, over a free society that actually delivers health care? You might have to deal with creditors after you go to the emergency ward in America, but no one is denied medical care here. I guarantee even the poorest Americans are getting far better medical services than many Cubans.
Fred Thompson has been a lawyer, actor and United States Senator. He writes exclusive analysis and commentary for Townhall Magazine.