In our nation's capital way back in 1995, Democrats and Republicans were fighting about - wait for it - budget deficits. Remember Clinton/Gingrich, the prequel to Obama/Boehner?
What were you doing eighteen years ago? There's good chance you saw Apollo 13 and Braveheart in the theaters; you watched Steve Young's 49ers win the Super Bowl; your radio played Coolio and Hootie and Oasis.
A more pertinent question: do you remember when you could drive on Pennsylvania Avenue past the White House? On May 20, 1995, the two block stretch of America's Main Street was permanently closed to all vehicular traffic.
To put this issue in context, the Oklahoma City bombing stunned the U.S. only weeks before. When a committee of experts provided a proposal to barricade the street for security measures, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin gave it his due attention. (Treasury oversaw the United States Secret Service then, but that changed in 2003.) It was no easy decision. It no doubt sparked national debate. Clinton himself hoped the avenue would flow unobstructed, as did Gingrich.
The New York Times said 'the explosion in Oklahoma City has confirmed the view that the symbolism of the open street is not worth the risk of a bomb-laden truck.'
Security won the day. The Powers That Be announced the road was closed off.
But Senator Rod Grams of Minnesota spoke for many when he said, 'Have you been to the White House lately? You'll see what fear looks like. With all the guards, the cement barriers, the police cruisers, Pennsylvania Avenue now looks like what some are calling a war zone. Or a bunker. This is not the White House of leaders like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, who defined freedom's essence and took deep pride in being its stewards. In fact, I don't know whose White House this is anymore. But I do know that it no longer seems to belong to the people.'
It was bound to happen. So, too, was the advent of the digital versatile disc (DVD) - also in good old 1995. A fair trade-off...