The time Mikhail Gorbachev starred in a Pizza Hut commercial

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I always feel sorry for Gorbachev. He was given command of a supertanker, and people blame him for not being able to turn it on a sixpence.

If his reforms had come before the era of stagnation, then there’s a good chance the USSR would still be around today. Of course, people have been saying these “what ifs” for 25 years. What if Kruschev wasn’t removed after the Cuban/Turkish missile crisis, What if Trotsky had replaced Lenin rather than Stalin, What if the sailors of Kronstadt has succeeded in restoring democracy and multi-party politics. And so on… The path dependence of the Soviet system on individual decisions, rather than robust systems is a key weakness in their entire history.

And this whole series of what ifs reminds me of a soviet-era joke:
Q- What is the difference between Dubček and Gorbachev?
A. Nineteen years.


Perhaps a more salient what-if is: What if Yeltsin, Russia’s first President after the fall of Communism, had been a disciplined, principled statesman instead of the drunk, incompetent, corrupt fool that he turned out to be.

Russia’s constitution and institutions are a joke because of him. And Putin didn’t come out of nowhere; Yeltsin groomed him because he wanted to retire with his ill-gotten billions without being prosecuted.


He couldn’t influence the onset of poor quality Pizza Hut in the 90s, either. /s


Anybody knows what is Gorbachev reputation in Russia now? I mean, is he forgotten, considered a failure but respected for trying, actively hated?


I know that everything in Trump’s life and career appears to be connected to Russia but this is just ridiculous.


And to reply to myself, just read the full article. Boy, not loved at all, not even given a consolation prize for trying.

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Gorby came to Minneapolis in 1990; my wife and I were living in northern Minnesota that year, and we trekked down to see him. Being in one of the crowds of Minnesotans cheering his motorcade was a delight.

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