Processing the Sanford scandal, recent writings by Cristina Nehring and The Atlantic's Sandra Tsing Loh, and "Jon and Kate Plus Eight," Ross zeroes in:

[Both writers] put their finger on a post-sexual revolution paradox namely, that the same overclass that was once most invested in erotic experimentation ended up building the sturdiest walls against the passions it unleashed.

As Nehring observes, our hyper-educated, socially-liberal elite is considerably more romantically conservative than its blasé attitude toward pornography or premarital sex would lead you to expect. The difficult scramble up the meritocratic ladder tends to discourage wild passions and death-defying flings. For bright young overachievers, there’s often a definite tameness to the way that collegiate “safe sex” segues into the upwardly-mobile security of “companionate marriages” or, if you’re feeling more cynical, “consumption partnerships.”

This tameness has beneficial social consequences: When it comes to divorce rates and out-of-wedlock births, Americans with graduate degrees are still living in the 1950s. It’s the rest of the country that marries impulsively, divorces frequently, and bears a rising percentage of its children outside marriage.

Reihan adds his thoughts.

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