|Andrew Breitbart, Jonathan Krohn, James O'Keefe, and Karl Rove.|
That was Jonathan Krohn at 13, when he was the conservative wunderkind, the great white hope of America, the talk of CPAC.
TPM has a whole slideshow of this kid hobnobbing with Republican celebrities (including Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, and Bill O'Reilly, among others).
It's really pretty funny now, four years later, given the uproar over his changed political views:
Jonathan Krohn, the teen conservative idol turned liberal heretic, is on the receiving end of a world of abuse from right wing pundits this week. Fine by him. But please folks, lay off his mom.
“My mother had a friend today who said she can’t be friends anymore because of me,” said Krohn, who described her as close to tears. “She texted her and said ‘Have a nice life.’ It’s a friend she’s known since before I was born!” Krohn told TPM Tuesday.
Republicans had largely forgotten about Krohn since turning him into a star speaker and author in 2009 at the tender age of 13. But that didn’t mean they were happy to let him go, reacting to a Politico interview in which he said he now supported President Obama with a torrent of unrestrained rage.
The Daily Caller led the charge. Gregg Re started things off with a profanity-filled screed from a spurned conservative who attended Krohn’s big CPAC speech in 2009 and apparently demanded anonymity to tell Re the 17-year-old was a “douche.” ...
“Nothing’s really stung me, all of it's just so absurd,” he [Krohn] said. “My favorite was someone who tweeted at me ‘You betrayed God and William Bennett, you little bastard!’ Because apparently they’re on the same plateau in this person’s mind.”
Well, you know how nasty these breakups can be. Teen crushes can seem so serious to Republicans and 13-year-olds! But the hysteria surrounding a teenager changing his mind seems a little... um, crazy, even for the right-wing, don't you think?
Luckily, Krohn seems to be keeping this all in perspective. Here he is in a column at Salon:
My involvement at such a young age happened for manifold reasons: I always enjoyed writing (I had gotten my first paid writing gig when I was 9), I enjoyed politics (or at least the theory of politics), and I grew up in Georgia, where conservative ideologues dominated the radio and the populace. Mix those things with the naïveté of a kid and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a fresh, right-wing pundit. My star role worked out well for a while. I didn’t have to question any of the talking points I’d made in my speech, and I got to drone on and on about them at numerous Tea Parties and other conservative gatherings. I felt justified in my beliefs if for no other reason than no one actually told me I was wrong. Instead, men like Bill Bennett and Newt Gingrich hailed me as the voice for my generation and a hope for America.
But then, earlier this week, Politico released an interview in which I announced I wasn’t a conservative anymore — and the proverbial crap hit the fan. Since then, I have been treated by the political right with all the maturity of schoolyard bullies. The Daily Caller, for instance, wrote three articles about my shift, topping it off with an opinion piece in which they stated that I deserved criticism because I wear “thick-rimmed glasses” and I like Ludwig Wittgenstein. Why don’t they just call me “four-eyes”? These are not adults leveling serious criticism; these are scorned right-wingers showing all the maturity of a little boy. No wonder I fit in so well when I was 13. ...
I was tired of the right using me as an example of how young people “get” what they’re talking about — when it’s obvious that I didn’t get what I talking about at all. I mean, come on, I was between 13 and 14 when I was regurgitating these talking points! What does a kid who has never paid a tax bring to the table in a conversation about the burden of taxes? What does a healthy child know about people who can’t afford healthcare because of preexisting conditions? No matter how intelligent a person might be, certain political issues require life experience; they’re much more complicated than the black and white frames imposed by partisan America.
Here's that interview at Politico that got the right into their bullying mode:
But a quick rundown of his current political stances suggests a serious pendulum swing away from the right.
Gay marriage? In favor. Obamacare? “It’s a good idea.” Who would he vote for (if he could) in November? “Probably Barack Obama.” His favorite TV shows? “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” His favorite magazine? The New Yorker. And, perhaps telling of all, Krohn is enrolling this fall at a college not exactly known for its conservatism: New York University.
“One of the first things that changed was that I stopped being a social conservative,” said Krohn. “It just didn’t seem right to me anymore. From there, it branched into other issues, everything from health care to economic issues.… I think I’ve changed a lot, and it’s not because I’ve become a liberal from being a conservative — it’s just that I thought about it more. The issues are so complex, you can’t just go with some ideological mantra for each substantive issue.”
Come on, he's still only 17. He can't even vote yet! So who knows where his political views will end up?
Unfortunately, Republicans don't take rejection well! "You're either with us or against us." You're either a right-wing true believer or a socialist, a terrorist, a traitor. And I guess that's the case even if you're just a kid.
Still, the reaction to the end of their crush really is pretty funny. I'm sorry that Jonathan Krohn is on the receiving end of all this, but I still have to laugh.