You may have seen the young lad, Jonathan Krohn, speaking to CPAC last weekend. You may also have read the NYT profile on him just this weekend. I’m going to skip both and instead give you Matt Yglesias’s take on the whole thing:
I really struggle to understand why this particular gimmick appeals to conservatives. What does it accomplish to put a 14 year-old front and center at CPAC? What’s the message it’s supposed to send? That the conservative message is childish? That the right’s talking points can be easily mastered by a 14 year-old? That the CPAC audience doesn’t care about the knowledge-base of the speakers there, they just want to hear certain ritual beats repeated? I wouldn’t want to claim that liberals are so high-minded as to be above all that, but I’m hard-pressed to think of an example of liberals trying to flaunt disdain for knowledge and expertise.
I have to agree, but I’ll add that I feel really bad for this kid. Dave and I were discussing this yesterday, and ultimately came to the conclusion that the joke may very well be on him, not on the Republican Party. At fourteen you are unqualified to wax poetic about anything really, no matter how much you think you know. The fact is this kid hasn’t gone through puberty yet, hasn’t even begun to find himself in the world or comprehend what he likes and he doesn’t like.
For example, at fourteen I used to read C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books all the time. I haven’t lost that affection through the years — I have seen both of the movies and will certainly continue to read bits of the books as I have time and feel compelled — but I have a lot of other things going on in my life, a lot of other interests. My feeling about Lewis has matured just as I have. I should point out that at fourteen I was also a Democrat. I’m not sure you could live in my parent’s house and not grow up that way. But I know that as I’ve aged I’ve come to understand what that means in a very different way than when I was a kid; I’ve been tested in ways that I was not qualified to be when I was fourteen, not least of all because no one wants to push too hard on a kid who is so young. In college and beyond you come to have conversations that were unthinkable when you were fourteen; as a result you are able to better understand where you’re coming from and what you believe.
Which is all to say that I think Krohn has a lot of growing up to do and I hope he’s not to ruined by this experience when he gets there. For all we know he’ll go to college and find out that he’s really a liberal. Horrors!