Tonight I attended the ceremony in which Mikhail Gorbachev received the Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Center. I'll have more on this in the North Star column next week, but first a few observations:
- Gorbachev visited Minneapolis/St. Paul in 1990, when I was 12 years old, which I remember being the biggest Twin Cities frenzy of my entire childhood that didn't involve a World Series or Super Bowl. Philly didn't quite have the same buzz today, but then Gorby has been out of office for awhile.
- Bush 41 introduced Gorbachev, while Ed Rendell and Michael Nutter spoke as well. The fact that Gorby has trashed Dubya all over the world appearently hasn't affected his friendship with the president's father.
- I went to the press conference with Gorbachev before the ceremony, and while I didn't get to ask a question- between translations from English to Russian and back, and the longwindedness of his answers, it took Gorby a half hour to answer five questions- I've now officially spent more time in the proximity of world leaders than Sarah Palin has.
- No, I didn't ask about "Rocky IV," nor did anyone else. But there was indeed Rocky vs. Ivan Drago footage in the special film about the history of the Cold War shown during the ceremony. They know their Philly audience, I guess.
Indeed, the former leader of the Soviet Union standing in front of an American flag while an American audience cheered reminded me an awful lot of an American heavyweight champion standing in a Russian ring being cheered by a Russian audience. But Gorby made no mention of that film's role in the peaceful end of the Cold War, nor did the phrase "if I can change, you can change, we all can change!" appear anywhere in his remarks.
- Apparently Yakov Smirnoff was there. I don't even have a joke. I bet he does, though.
- The event was sort of marred by a microphone mishap in which Gorbachev (in Russian) and his translator (in English) couldn't be heard over each other. The translator, by the way, is a dead ringer for G. Gordon Liddy.
- Bruce Hornsby got up at the end and sang "The Way It Is," though I could tell some in the press area recognized the tune more from the 2Pac song that sampled it.Posted by Stephen Silver at September 19, 2008 01:37 AM