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The '90s: A decade of frivolity?

The '90s: A decade of frivolity?

Welcome back, '90s; I've missed you.

Monica Lewinsky is on the speaking circuit. American cable networks have served up a series on the O.J. Simpson trial and one on the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. As we contemplate sending the Clintons back to the White House, '90s economic globalization, anti-crime efforts, welfare reform and financial deregulation are all on trial.

The '90s were an exuberant interlude between the Cold War and the post-Sept. 11 era. Hardly anyone disputes that. The debate is over whether you think we wasted this exuberant interlude by indulging in mindless pursuits, or whether the decade stands, as Bill Clinton asserts, as a consequential time...