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Young Guns: What to Make of Conservative Teen Pundits?

Wise beyond their years, or brainwashed by their elders?

by
Adam Graham

Bio

May 29, 2009 - 12:00 am
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He was a finalist for Time’s 100 most influential people. He’s got a radio show in the works and has a book on its way to the stores. This past Friday, he made the trip to Chattanooga to headline the Lincoln Day Dinner with four candidates for governor.

Oh, by the way, he’s fourteen.

Jonathan Krohn is not the first teenage political pundit, but the level of notoriety he’s achieved in a few months is stunning. Krohn lacks polish, but he makes up for that with competence in understanding political issues and unflappable confidence.

Some liberals have made fun of Krohn, while others have tipped their hat to him — as did most Huffington Post commenters. Many conservative bloggers have embraced Krohn, primarily because the fourteen-year old is better able to defend conservative values than many members of Congress.

But Krohn’s harshest critics come from the right. They believe Krohn lacks the life experience to be commenting on politics. Hot Air’s Allah Pundit asks, “Does he understand what he’s saying, or is he just doing some sort of superb mynah-bird impression of a conservative pundit in the Tucker Carlson mold?”

Likewise, President Herbert Hoover once advised a young man not to concern himself with politics until he turned twenty-one. And there’s the famous quote by Winston Churchill that a young conservative has no heart but an old liberal has no brain.

Is Krohn a brainwashed puppet of dastardly right-wing parents, or a shining light for conservatism’s way forward?

The idea Krohn represents parental brainwashing is condescending, particularly given that Krohn has explained neither of his parents are particularly political. Believe me, it can happen. I got interested in politics at about Krohn’s age. My parents were not into politics. My father hadn’t voted in five consecutive presidential elections, and his vote in 1968 was for perennial candidate Pat Paulsen.

I formed my opinions by doing a lot of reading, writing, listening, and studying. By fourteen, I knew enough about politics to bore most adults. Of course, I didn’t have a national platform.

Other teenagers have gotten their shot and heretofore the results have not been pleasant.

Kyle Williams is perhaps the most obvious example. He began writing for WorldNetDaily.com in 2001 at age 12 and also had a book published. He got in a speech at the National Press Club and a few TV interviews before he mostly disappeared, except for his weekly article for WND every Saturday.

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