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The City and Sex

The City and Sex examines American political sex scandals at the national level. Studying these events over time with an emphasis on the evolving responses of both statesmen and citizens reveals the republic's deteriorating moral health and illuminates the country's dangerous tendency toward servitude. Using scandals as a window through which to glimpse our deterioration, the book identifies a trajectory of decline beginning in the twentieth century, by which Americans became less tutored in virtue, less spirited in citizenship, less agreed on questions of moral significance, and ultimately less dexterous in exercising the skills of self-government. It seeks to show that the freedom from virtue won through the collapse of moral standards has produced an American citizenry increasingly prone to the kind of dependence and enslavement Alexis de Tocqueville cautioned against in the 1830s.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction Chapter 1: American Virtue Chapter 2: Scandals Over Time Chapter 3: Ancient Scandals Chapter 4: Modernity Burgeons Chapter 5: Thoroughly Modern Pathologies Chapter 6: A Post-Modern Presidency Chapter 7: Disinterring Skeletons Conclusion Appendixes Notes Bibliography

About the Author

Mary Beth McConahey is assistant director of the Center for Political and Economic Thought at Saint Vincent College, where she teaches in the politics department.


[Mary Beth McConahey's] treatment of politicians is especially persuasive. Claremont Review of Books And now for something completely different: the politics of sex, minus the usual postmodern platitudes, from a scholar well-versed in political philosophy as well as American political thought and institutions. At once rigorously empirical and philosophically literate, McConahey insists there is a connection between private and public vice, virtue and liberty, sexual indiscretion and political health. From her opening consideration of a 'fiery-tempered ecdysiast named Annabelle Battistella' through her learned discussions of Aristotle, the American Founders, Tocqueville, the indiscretions of our beloved and not-so-beloved politicians, and the possibilities of self-government in the modern age, McConahey draws the reader in and makes political science sexy-I'm tempted to say 'once again,' but she is much more groundbreaking than that. -- Bradley C. S. Watson, Philip M. McKenna Professor of Politics, Saint Vincent College Ever since Bernard Mandeville famously argued that private vice leads to public benefit many have been tempted to view the 'private sins' of America's leaders as having no bearing on their capabilities in political office or on our cultural wellbeing. Mary Beth McConahey blows this thesis out of the water in this magnificent book. McConahey returns to the vision of our Founding Fathers to show that private virtue leads to public virtue, and private vice leads to the destruction of republican self-government. In writing this book McConahey has performed a great service for the entire nation. -- Ryan T. Anderson, William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy, The Heritage Foundation

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