So Long to Mikhail Gorbachev
When he assumed leadership, in 1985, he inherited a country that was economically moribund, stubbornly corrupt, endemically drunk and unproductive, and suffering through the final spasms of ideological failure. Its weaknesses relative to the West were increasingly obvious. A lesser leader might’ve tried to cover up or ignore such challenges. Gorbachev — selectively, inconsistently, sometimes cynically — took many of them on.