Or, 'An Excuse to Show You This Video Once More'
Mr. Gorbachev has been on this journey before. Ten years ago, he did a TV spot for Pizza Hut that drew considerable scorn. In the ad, he feeds a slice to his 10-year-old granddaughter while Russians debate whether he sold them out or brought them freedom. He argued at the time that he needed money for his foundation.
This time, Louis Vuitton says it donated some money to an environmental fund he heads; the sum has not been disclosed. So what's wrong with Mr. Gorbachev cashing in on his image before it fades completely? Celebrities and athletes, after all, measure their success in commercial endorsements. The others featured in this Louis Vuitton campaign are Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi and Catherine Deneuve.
We see little wrong when famous people make a tidy living off speeches and best sellers. But a statesman peddling a product for pay -- remember Bob Dole's Viagra ads -- is seen to cheapen his or her historic achievement. Putting Lenin into a Coca-Cola ad is the icon of the deliberately subversive "Soc-Art" art movement in Russia.
Must have been a slow day on the op-ed desk when this one was written.