The Brainwashing Wore Off

Remember this kid:

Seems like he grew out of it:

Jonathan Krohn took the political world by storm at 2009’s Conservative Political Action Conference when, at just 13 years old, he delivered an impromptu rallying cry for conservatism that became a viral hit and had some pegging him as a future star of the Republican Party.

Now 17, Krohn — who went on to write a book, “Defining Conservatism,” that was blurbed by the likes of Newt Gingrich and Bill Bennett — still watches that speech from time to time, but it mostly makes him cringe because, well, he’s not a conservative anymore.

“I think it was naive,” Krohn now says of the speech. “It’s a 13-year-old kid saying stuff that he had heard for a long time.… I live in Georgia. We’re inundated with conservative talk in Georgia.… The speech was something that a 13-year-old does. You haven’t formed all your opinions. You’re really defeating yourself if you think you have all of your ideas in your head when you were 12 or 13. It’s impossible. You haven’t done enough.”

Krohn won’t go so far as to say he’s liberal, in part because his move away from conservatism was a move away from ideological boxes in general.

“I want to be Jonathan Krohn,” he said, “and I’m tired of being an ideology, and it’s not fun and it gets boring and it’s not who we are as individuals.”

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.

I was going to say something glib and sarcastic until I remembered I didn’t grow out of it until my mid 30’s.

143 replies
  1. 1
    Chris Stein says:

    I didn’t grow out of it until 19.

  2. 2
    redshirt says:

    Do 17 year olds have countertops?

  3. 3
    jl says:

    First Roberts, now they got to Krohn. Sinister scary stuff.

    But, seriously, congratulations to Krohn.

  4. 4
    CraigoMc says:

    I was left of center even as a kid, but my brother was about 23, 24. (I think the last Republican he voted for was Bush in 2004.)

  5. 5
    eric says:

    Obama still has not grown out of it, with his faux-liberal, corporatist, pro-banker, pro-torture regime.

    Sheehan/Choi 2012

  6. 6
    terraformer says:

    Conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed.

    This “Krohn” fellow has simply failed Conservatism.

  7. 7
    Stav says:

    I was in Young Americans for Freedom at 13. At 14 met St. Ronnie when my dad interviewed him. By 18 cast my first vote against the Saint and for the crazy (but interesting) John Anderson. Being very conservative is a great philosophy for self-centered pre-adolescents. If you can grow up mentally and emotionally, it is hard to maintain that philosophy.

  8. 8
    Linnaeus says:

    Took me until my late 20s, but I managed it.

  9. 9
    Unabogie says:



  10. 10
    Maude says:

    At thirteen, he was a parrot and at seventeen, he is a person.
    For older people, it’s seeing a major fault in the policies of a political part.

  11. 11
    Marilyn Merlot says:

    I think the fact that CPAC had a 13 year old as a speaker says a lot about conservatism.

  12. 12
    redshirt says:

    I’ll admit I got caught up in the early days of the Regan Revolution.

    R.E.M. saved me.

  13. 13
    JGabriel, Statist Minded Ideologue of the Left says:

    John Cole:

    I was going to say something glib and sarcastic until I remembered I didn’t grow out of it until my mid 30’s.

    Damn it, Cole, that one wins the thread before it even started!


  14. 14
    Gus says:

    He’s still only 17, but sounds pretty mature for his age.

  15. 15
    SatanicPanic says:

    When you’re young if you’re not a liberal you have no heart, if you’re old blah blah blah blah blah

  16. 16
    Culture of Truth says:

    When I was a kid I campaigned for Democrats and I still do. I must be narrow minded.

    Also – there are conservatives at NYU! At least there used to be. One or two.

  17. 17
    kindness says:

    Actually John, some of the folks here STILL question you, on multiple levels. Not just the trolls either.

    Most of us though….You’re OK in our book.

  18. 18
    Culture of Truth says:

    Too bad, really. He could’ve ridden that wingnut welfare wave for a long time.

  19. 19
    Bnut says:

    @Culture of Truth: Probably in the econ department.

  20. 20
    Librarian says:

    It happened to me at age 19 also, during the 1980 campaign, when I heard John Anderson pointing out what total nonsense Reagan was spewing. Anderson was the one who turned me into a liberal.

  21. 21
    kc says:

    The libtards got to him! Just like they did John Roberts!

  22. 22
    gogol's wife says:

    Good boy! I had a Republican mother and a Democrat-Socialist father, and as a young child I sided with Mommy. So in 1960 I made signs for Henry Cabot Lodge (I couldn’t quite stomach Nixon, but Lodge was cute) and refused to go with my father and brothers to see Kennedy when he came through Kansas City. I grew out of it by the next election.

  23. 23
    Scott S. says:

    The Virgin Ben *still* hasn’t grown out of it!

  24. 24
    slag says:

    @Marilyn Merlot: I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to listen to what kids have to say sometimes. Even at major conferences. They can be teachable moments and can bring a new perspective to the conversation. But I do think it’s a really bad idea to cast them as thought leaders. If you’re not even trying to outthink a pre-teen, then you’re not aiming very high. Soft-bigotry of low expectations etc etc.

    In that vein, I take some issue with those who zealously argue that Democrats need to sound much more like Republicans. The line between good messaging and insulting oversimplification keeps getting blurrier and blurrier. I’d prefer to stay on the right side of that line.

  25. 25
    Al says:

    I had to leave home for college, which allowed me to stop reading the Indianapolis Star, which til then I had done every morning before delivering them. Plus, I wanted to be a scientist so I had to jettison my Creationist upbringing. Plus my parents freaked out when we walked into the Red Lobster (1977) in the big city of Muncie Indiana (Ball State University) and there was a mixed-race couple right up front! That’s when I knew it would be more fun to be liberal.

  26. 26

    At 11, I thought Reagan was a super-hero. At 18, I happily voted for George H.W. Bush instead of that weak-kneed commie, Dukakis. Then, at 21, I was arrested and detained on suspicion of rape because the cops went to the wrong address and mistook me for a guy four inches taller, sixty pounds lighter and with a different hair color. If a liberal is a conservative who’s never been mugged, then a conservative is a liberal who’s never been falsely arrested. By 1996, I was reluctantly voting for Clinton … reluctantly because I considered him to be Republican-lite but there were no options to his left.

  27. 27
    Gin & Tonic says:

    When I was this kid’s age I was marching against the war in Vietnam and waiting eagerly to turn 18 so I could register to vote, which I did, for George McGovern.

  28. 28
    Tractarian says:

    This kid simply MUST be a featured speaker at the Dem convention.

    At the very least, he’ll make conservatives around the country chuck stuff at the TV, kinda like I did in 2004 watching Zell Miller.

  29. 29
    red dog says:

    So the RED state of GA gave the kid full on GOP doctrine and it only lasted until age 18. There may be a chance for all of us.

  30. 30
    quannlace says:

    Was that the kid who said on a radio show that Obama is turning kids gay? But no, turns out to be another teenage darling of the wingnuts.
    Congrats on Krohn deciding to think for himself.

  31. 31
    schrodinger's cat says:

    What about Tunch? Is he still a Republican?

  32. 32
    Wag says:


    At thirteen, he was a parrot and at seventeen, he is a person

    …and in response to this growing maturity, we get the TX GOP opposingthe teaching of “Critial Thinking Skills” in school

  33. 33

    @Stav: Being very conservative is a great philosophy for self-centered pre-adolescents.

    True true. It’s a perfect fit for somebody with privilege who thinks he’s smarter than everybody else.

    I look back on my adolescent Republican identity with scorn, but it wasn’t so much that I was stupid as that I was just unquestioning. I wanted adult approval, and cheering for Reagan was one way to get it. (So was listening to 1950’s rock and roll, but that tactic has better side effects.)

  34. 34
    Wag says:


    I thought about it, but ended voting for Barry Commoner because he was all in for renewable energy back in 1980.

  35. 35
    danielx says:

    Alert Michelle Malkin – clearly it’s time to investigate every social connection this kid has. Somebody, whether a friend, a family member, a teacher, or whomever has corrupted him, and it’s the duty of good conservatives to find out who that person is and to turn him or her into the liberal version of George Tierney of Greenville South Carolina.

  36. 36
    anthrosciguy says:

    A liberal is a conservative who started thinking.

    When I was 10 I thought Nixon would be a better president than Kennedy.

  37. 37
    joeytomato says:

    lol…grew out of what? Your opinions on war are still childishly simplistic just like your hero greenwald.

    You just went from one wrong extreme to the other. How’s that “get the hell out of Libya Obama” think workin for ya btw. Or, “the economy is tanking because see the Dow is down today”. Or any one of hundreds of other examples of your childishly simplistic naive views on just about everything.

    My opinion, you should stick with what you know. Start a blog about how to let dogs and cats manipulate you and sprinkle in posts about what you ate today and how it tasted.

  38. 38
    Chris says:

    I grew out of it when I was sixteen. Good for you, kid!

  39. 39
    Michael Demmons says:

    I did dinner and a football game with this kid and his dad a few years back. I wanted to punch the little fucker so bad!

  40. 40

    Further quotes from the same article:

    “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.”

    This is the case for a lot of us: it’s like the proverbial crack in the dam that brings the whole edifice down. You start questioning one part of your comfy viewpoint, you start to find everything else doesn’t hold up too well either.

    “It was just me saying things I had heard so long from people I thought were interesting and just came to believe for some reason, without really understanding it. I understood it enough to talk about it but not really enough to have a conversation about it.”

    Bingo, for me at his age and frankly for a lot of us well into adulthood.

  41. 41
    David in NY says:

    Conservatism is just a religion or a kind of clan-solidarity. Nothing more. I was vaguely religious as a kid, and I think most kids are. Lots of them get over it.

    ETA: But I was always a liberal. I thought liberals were born, not made, but lots of counter-examples above.

  42. 42
    Ash Can says:

    Hats off to this kid for not being afraid to grow up. It takes courage and character to look at your beliefs, especially ones embraced so publicly, and say, “Ya know, this is baloney.” Good for him.

  43. 43
    MattF says:

    The kid seems to be developing an adult personality, and that’s a good thing. It would be interesting to know whether he’s getting there by being repelled by bad examples or attracted to good examples.

  44. 44
    Commenting at Balloon Juice Since 1937 says:

    Katie Holmes escaped from ScienTomogist, Anderson Cooper comes out, and now this. Is it the crazy weather or is summer the season for change?

  45. 45
    David in NY says:

    I wanted to punch the little fucker so bad!

    @Michael Demmons:

    Well, I hope you are glad you didn’t do it.

  46. 46
    HE Pennypacker, Wealthy Industrialist says:

    I was mostly apolitical until I was in college and Reagan started funneling arms to death squads in Latin America.

  47. 47
    hilzoy says:

    MattF: Interestingly, it’s this:

    “I started getting into philosophy — Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Kant and lots of other German philosophers. And then into present philosophers — Saul Kripke, David Chalmers. It was really reading philosophy that didn’t have anything to do with politics that gave me a breather and made me realize that a lot of what I said was ideological blather that really wasn’t meaningful. It wasn’t me thinking. It was just me saying things I had heard so long from people I thought were interesting and just came to believe for some reason, without really understanding it. I understood it enough to talk about it but not really enough to have a conversation about it.”

    If the kid is reading Kripke before he gets to college, that’s pretty impressive.

  48. 48
    YoohooCthulhu says:

    “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.”

    Translation: “I have sexual urges now, and this social conservative stuff sounds like no fun…at all!”

  49. 49
    David in NY says:

    @MattF: I’m betting on sex. He’s 17, right? At 17, sex is mostly what there is.

  50. 50

    Have the Malkinites inspected his countertops yet?

  51. 51
    David in NY says:

    @YoohooCthulhu: Seems to be a common thread here.

  52. 52
    pepper says:

    it is amazing what happens when people actually think for themselves. i feel fortunate i was raised in a state that still allows critical thinking. i was raised by a fairly a liberal mom and a rockefeller republican father. i was liberal on social issues as soon as i understood them, which was as a teenager. as part of my rebellion against my father, i had to take the other side on economic issues. then i did some research and became liberal on those, too, independent of adolescent rebellions.

    i work with a lot of people who are still evolving. i try to help them when possible and hope they get there someday.

  53. 53
    gnomedad says:


    This kid simply MUST be a featured speaker at the Dem convention.

    NO. Both sides don’t do it. Let the child abuse survivor grow up. Happy for him.

  54. 54
    Bubblegum Tate says:


    Being very conservative is a great philosophy for self-centered pre-adolescents. If you can grow up mentally and emotionally, it is hard to maintain that philosophy.

    That’s exactly the takeaway I got from Krohn’s statements. When his CPAC speech first started making the rounds, we all chuckled about how conservatism is best expressed by, well, a self-centered pre-adolescent. Now that he’s outgrown it, the point has been driven home even more forcefully.

    But also: Good for him. I’m sure it’s not easy bucking the tide in deep red Georgia.

  55. 55
    Soonergrunt says:

    @eric: Bless your heart!

    EDIT-good one!

  56. 56
    catclub says:

    The article is quite good. But I still suspect that the Title
    is Politico trying to imply he is gay.

    Try this alternative “CPAC Superkid grows up to be liberal.”

    versus their: “CPAC’s boy wonder swings left”

    So: Is it just me?

  57. 57
    Quincy says:

    Took me until my late 20s, so hat’s off to this kid.

    As trivial as it is, I just love this story. I think I’d feel so much better about the world if at least once a week I could witness a Republican say out loud, “Hey, this is all complete bullshit. Wow, I’m kind of embarrassed. I’ll be thinking from now on.”

  58. 58
    catclub says:

    @hilzoy: “If the kid is reading Kripke before he gets to college.”

    Heck, if he’s reading Officer Krupke it is impressive.

  59. 59
    Valdivia says:


    lol, maybe Obama pre-intimidated Cole into being a liberal. Because we know he also time travels and plans ahead. See certificate, birth.

  60. 60
    rb says:

    @eric: “Sheehan/Choi 2012”

    ROFL. You got me. That is a weapons-grade snark to word ratio.

  61. 61
    David in NY says:

    @David in NY: I want to retract my “It’s all about sex” remark. The kid is obviously smart and thoughtful.

  62. 62
    jl says:


    Who knows? The kid could have gotten all he wanted of all kinds of stuff on the sly, while staying on the wingnut gravy train.

    Looks like he just cold turned it down. Integrity? He follows the Honey Badger code? Whatever. Good for him.

  63. 63
    jrg says:

    It takes a special kind of stupid to put a 13 year old speaker at CPAC to spout platitudes and not see how that might backfire.

  64. 64
    fanshawe says:

    I was more or less a both-sides-do-it NPR tote bagger through high school, to the extent I cared anyway. That was Clinton era, and I grew up in a fairly liberal part of Long Island (lots of affluent cultral Catholics who didn’t go all in with the social conservatism stuff so we had same-sex prom dates and openly gay high school administrators without any noticable friction), so conservative culture warriors were kind of a foreign animal to me and it was hard for me to believe that anyone took them seriously. Then I went to college I actaully met those people and turned hard left. And after 9/11 happened the beginning of sophomore year, I became a effite elitest commie-pinko terrorist-loving traitor and never looked back.

  65. 65
    rb says:

    @joeytomato: and sprinkle in posts about what you ate today and how it tasted.

    OK, we disagree, but as a haterade connoisseur I have to give respect for this acid bit of phrasing.

  66. 66

    @Gin & Tonic: Except the voting age was 21 when McGovern was in the mix.

  67. 67

    I look back on my adolescent Republican identity with scorn, but it wasn’t so much that I was stupid as that I was just unquestioning.


    I was given a world view, embraced it, didn’t question it. Shunned other world views as wrong and incorrect, and it took me until 31 to realize I knew nothing. It took me until 35 before I was willing to deal with the consequences of knowing that I knew nothing.

  68. 68
    Napoleon says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q):

    The vote was given to 18 year olds before the 72 election.

  69. 69
    Heliopause says:

    Good for this kid, taking some of the heat off of John Roberts. Very patriotic.

  70. 70
    opie jeanne says:

    @Librarian: I was already leaning that way during Nixon’s first term but I got really angry when Agnew made some of those anti-education comments. 0

    Anderson was the first non-Republican I voted for because of what you said. He pointed out what I already knew but it took years for me to acknowledge that I was no longer a Republican. I have no idea what I am now, but I find myself voting for every Democrat I see, either because I like them or all of the other choices are not as good. Not sure that makes me a Democrat, but apparently I’ve become a liberal.

  71. 71
    Jay in Oregon says:

    I grew up in rural Alaska. I didn’t really give a shit about politics—I thought it was cool that Reagan was an actor who went on to become a politician, which should tell you how much I knew about anything—but I was probably pretty center-right. This is rural Alaska I’m talking about, after all!

    My epiphany came in my freshman year of college when I was on a group date with a bunch of friends, and talking up a girl I was crazy about. At the other end of the table were two gay men, my age, flirting with each other.

    A year before, I probably would have sneered or been grossed out; but I looked at those guys, looked at the girl I was with, and made the obvious connection. They were crazy about each other, and I was OK with that. (Nothing ever happened between me and the girl; I hope those guys did better, at least for a while.)

  72. 72
    Shinobi says:

    I feel bad for this kid. No matter how passionate my child was about something I would not let them write political books before they could even vote. His parents were probably too busy shoving their ideology down his throat to think “hey, maybe it’s a bad idea to let our still growing and learning child publicize his political views.”

    Everybody changes their mind about things between 10 and 20. We become different people. That’s why juvenile records are sealed and we all do our best to forget what jerks we were back then.

  73. 73
    Kane says:

    I have always been a liberal, it is in the marrow of my bones. But I kind of envy those former conservatives who have seen the light and crossed over on their own. They have the specialness similar to adopted children. Their destiny was chosen.

  74. 74
    Tom Q says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q): No, actually the law was changed between the ’68 and ’72 elections. My first presidential vote (first vote of any kind, actually) was at age 20 for McGovern.

    But, since we’re owning up: I was for Nixon in ’68, because my father was (though I think my instincts were always liberal: I loved plays like Inherit the Wind, which were clearly left-leaning). Mostly, I was apolitical as a teenager, which leaves less embarrassing evidence behind.

    Then my freshman year at Northwestern was when Kent State happened and the whole campus went on strike. All my friends were liberals then; so was I, and have been ever since.

  75. 75

    @catclub: Yeah, I think that’s just you.

  76. 76
    Violet says:

    He seems like a smart kid. Good for him for questioning things, learning, expanding his circle of knowledge and being adult enough to admit he was wrong and change his mind. Also for turning down that sweet, sweet Citizens United money. You just know the wingnut money spigot would have been turned on full blast for this kid, had he wanted to go down that path.

  77. 77

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q):

    Except the voting age was 21 when McGovern was in the mix.

    Wrong. I was 20 when I cast my first presidential vote (for McGovern, although I thought of it more as “against Nixon”) in November 1972. Near the end of her life a few years ago my girlfriend of that era mentioned that she still regretted missing the birthday deadline by a mere seven weeks.

  78. 78
    Riilism says:

    Good on the kid. When I first heard about him, as well the “Bama is turnin’ my friends gay-cooties-icky-poo” kid, the first thing I thought of was what are they going to feel about this “episode” later in life.

    Sounds as if this kid is having the most healthy response possible….

  79. 79

    @Napoleon: You iz correct. I’m having a slow brain day and misremembered which election was McGovern. So much for focus. My apologies to g&t.

  80. 80
    fuzz says:


    I agree with you but just to play devil’s advocate, that book might be what’s paying for NYU. That place ain’t cheap.

  81. 81
    The Moar You Know says:

    @joeytomato: Christ, derf, you’re such a fucking one-note pony I can tell who you are within two sentences. What is this, your sixth handle? Seventh?

  82. 82
    Chad says:

    @Culture of Truth: that’s what I was thinking. He could’ve made a LOT of money.

  83. 83
    opie jeanne says:

    @Michael Demmons: How was the dad? Was he someone you also wanted to punch, or was he just waiting for the kid to grow out of this phase.

    I can see that it’s kind of cool if your kid was asked to address a group of grown-ups at a convention regardless of how much you disagree with them, and even cooler that he did now that he has grown out of that mind-set that.

  84. 84
    poguemahone says:

    Boy, I hated this kid. He seemed like a rotten entitled little shit. But I’m glad to hear he got better. It took me until about 18 or 19 to realize my belief system was full of shit.

  85. 85
    Mike E says:

    @The Moar You Know: Cole’s ripped out mater plants are rebelling. I blame the Mayans.

  86. 86
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q): Sorry, it wasn’t. The 26th amendment was adopted in 1971. I know, as I followed that closely, and registered to vote (and voted) in 1972.

  87. 87
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Since edit never works for me, this is a sort of ETA that I see I piled on pretty late with the voting age stuff.

  88. 88
    burnspbesq says:


    Sheehan/Choi 2012

    This has to be snark. No one with a functioning brain can think this is a good idea.

  89. 89
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    He’s clearly a smart kid. The usual progression for broadly smart kids in their early teens is towards much more abstract disciplines than politics — maths, computing, etc. — where the lack of social and emotional experience isn’t an impediment. It looks like he headed off towards logical philosophy instead. “I understood it enough to talk about it but not really enough to have a conversation about it” is the tell.

    (It’s the College Republicans that you need to worry about.)

  90. 90
    shortstop says:

    @burnspbesq: We can almost hear the gears in your creaky, unexercised old brain turning slowly, slowly.

  91. 91
    burnspbesq says:

    I was going to say something glib and sarcastic until I remembered I didn’t grow out of it until my mid 30’s.

    Switching teams isn’t enough. There are some aspects of the Wingnut mindset that you have yet to discard.

  92. 92
    Ken says:

    @slag: If you’re not even trying to outthink a pre-teen, then you’re not aiming very high.

    No, no! Before he was corrupted by the real world, Krohn was showing the highest Party ideals. To be able to spout the approved phrases without engaging the higher centers of the brain; truly he was a doubleplusgood duckspeaker.

  93. 93

    @pseudonymous in nc: The usual progression for broadly smart kids in their early teens is towards much more abstract disciplines than politics—maths, computing, etc.—where the lack of social and emotional experience isn’t an impediment.

    That’s why they read Heinlein too. BAM!

  94. 94
    Ajay says:

    I must say I am surprised and I typically don’t get surprised. I thought he will go further down. Its very hard for conservatives to come back, they just degrade and have an affinity to blame everything that’s wrong in their life on others(liberals in this case). 17 is way too young to revert your thinking.. thats why surprise..

    On the flip side, all conservative talk hosts are stuck in their early teen years…

  95. 95
    The Moar You Know says:

    I was raised as a liberal. I then went off to college at UC Santa Cruz and was exposed to real, 100% uncut liberalism.

    Whole different beast than what I was raised with. They considered me a conservative…and by their standards I was. Stayed there for a decade. Didn’t change my values.

    Moved to San Francisco for another decade and they considered me a centrist. Didn’t change my values.

    Moved back home to Southern California and they consider me a Marxist. Again, without changing my values.

  96. 96
    burnspbesq says:


    Oh, lucky me. I have a personal troll.

  97. 97
    Seanly says:

    I always leained liberal. My mom thought I was going to be a little Nazi because I always liked guns & military and wore my hair short. I occassionally said stupid stuff, but it was reading Ayn Rand brought out the teenage liberal.

    I appreciated the idea of intellectual freedom & being one’s own master in Fountainhead, but then began to turn off when Roark built the tenement. I hated the description of it being designed so the lower class shoved in there could sleep 20 to a room & that Roark was brilliant because he understood that the poor people liked it that way. I only drifted further & further from there – in Atlas Shrugged I wondered why it was a big deal if other companies made radios & frying pans out of Rearden steel. If they did that, there must’ve been an econonical advantage. Plus I grew to feel that all the talk about such rampant selfishness made all the protagonists complete douchebags.

  98. 98
    shortstop says:

    The vitriol that is about to get flung at this kid by the right is going to shock even the most apolitical parent. Watch the GOP turn this into a nightmare public-opinion scenario for themselves.

  99. 99
    shortstop says:

    @burnspbesq: Don’t be silly. Everyone hates you, old 7-2. May we call you 7-2?

  100. 100

    @burnspbesq: Oh, lucky me. I have a personal troll.

    You’ve made the big time!

  101. 101
    burnspbesq says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    Also – there are conservatives at NYU!

    Their influence is limited because the B-School isn’t on the Washington Square campus.

  102. 102
    Halcyon says:


    This. A thousand times this. That sound bite needs to be there for everyone who needs it right around convention time: “Greetings, fellow liberals. I used to be a conservative. They loved me. When I was 13. And then I grew up.” One of the most damaging things is how “liberal” is still a dirty word. I probably wouldn’t have spent those couple of embarrassing years as a libertarian on my way out if I had already had someone telling me that “liberal” was a thing you could be without being ashamed of it. A lot of the young voters (you know, the ones who are going to be important this time around) could also probably do with hearing that.

    Conversion stories are a good way to bring people in. And yes, I realize that sounds like I’m talking about a church and not an election. No, I don’t have any problems with that. A person who switches sides for emotional reasons provides just as many votes as any other person.

  103. 103
    David Hunt says:

    I voted for GHW Bush in my first presidential election at age 21. I was an Economics major at Texas A&M and de-regulation was a big thing that they were arguing. Scarily, it seemed to make sense at the time. I didn’t like Republican social policy, but “hands-off” economic policy seemed more important back then. Between ’88 and ’92 one of my best friends convinced me that the ability of Presidents to appoint Supreme Court Justices was the most important power that they had owing to the appointments being for life and how much influence the Supremos had. The Clarence Thomas kerfluffle helped cement that I couldn’t trust Republicans to put good people on the court. I voted for Clinton in ’92 on that basis and have watched the right-wing become increasing insane over the last twenty years. It’s kept my votes on the right side of the FSM since then.

    I can’t exactly place the point where I mentally switched from “not affiliated with a party that almost always votes for Democrats” to my current party affiliation of “Anti-Republican,” but I know I coined the latter descriptor somewhere in GWB’s Administration. I’m pretty sure it was after Delay’s work in the mid-decade re-districting of Texas. (The only good thing to come out that was that Joe Barton was no longer my Congressman.) After that, I realized that voting for Republicans at any level down to and including school boards was supporting the vast machine that was trying to destroy Democracy. I became an Anti-Republican at that point and have not voted for a Republican in any capacity since. If there’s a Democrat available, I’ll vote for them. If not, I’ll vote for whoever opposes the Republican on principle. Libertarian, Green, Communist, it doesn’t matter as long it’s not supporting anyone with an “R” after their name. It’s almost always libertarian if there are not Democrats. Once or twice I’ve think I’ve seen a Green. If the Republican runs unopposed, I won’t vote in that election.

  104. 104
    burnspbesq says:


    You may call me the person who correctly predicted that the individual mandate would be upheld.

    “7-2” would be inaccurate. I am barely six feet tall.

  105. 105
    Michael Demmons says:

    @opie jeanne: The dad was the REASON for all this.

  106. 106
    Jay in Oregon says:

    I hate to break it to you, but Cole just isn’t that into you.

  107. 107
    Napoleon says:

    @Rand Careaga:

    The 26th amendment giving 18 year olds the right to vote was signed into law 7/5/71, 16 months before the 1972 presidential election.

  108. 108
    shortstop says:

    @burnspbesq: We shall call you the person who refuses to acknowledge his whopping error of repeatedly insisting the count would be 8-1, then 7-2. You’re the person who kept appealing to his own fictional authority to insist that a maximum of one or two outliers would opine outside constitutional grounds. After four justices did just that, you’re the person who’s still doggedly crying that the court isn’t partisan, because your own insupportably outsized ego and self-worth are so tightly tied up with pretending we don’t have a major corruption problem on the high court. (It’s that pretense, by the way, that now makes you part of the problem of the court’s partisanship rather than one of the many ethical attorneys who are deeply concerned about the future of a compromised court and its effect on the legitimacy of the legal profession.)

    You’re the person who actually said today that Bush v Gore is the only outlier–would you like to tell us how all those constitutional scholars are wrong and the ACA dissent was actually defensible on constitutional grounds, Burns?

    I didn’t make a prediction on the ACA, except to note that the previously demonstrated partisanship of the court’s right wing might rear its head again in some form. I was 100 percent correct, which puts me way ahead of you, old coot.

  109. 109
    rea says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: What about Tunch? Is he still a Republican?

    He’s a fat cat. Of course he’s a Republican.

  110. 110
    Rommie says:


    Weeks of “My team is going to DESTROY the other guys in the Super Bowl, it’s gonna be a cakewalk!”

    Team wins via a final-play miracle Hail Mary touchdown pass.

    “I told you they’d win!”

    C’mon, eat your crow and move on. If a 17-year-old kid can do it, so can you.

  111. 111

    @Gin & Tonic: No problem. I wuz the idiot for thinking McGovern was ’68. Totally embarrassed, but heat is hard on folks with MS. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. (Heat does make symptoms worse, though its effect on memory – who knows?)

    I’m a dolt today.

  112. 112
    MCA1 says:

    Similar passage here: grew up in a Republican household complete with Reagan championing and complaining about liberal media. My parents were pretty pragmatic and would and did support Democrats who were good statespeople, etc., but by and large they were conservatives and the Republican brand was a much stronger one in our house. And sure enough life seemed pretty good as a 12-year-old in 1986 in the blossom of Reagan’s America. So I was an unquestioning Republican who voted for H.W. Bush and even wrote for the conservative rag my freshman year in college (when I go back and read some of the output now, I cringe). It took the combination of Leroy Newt and his band of merry overreachers, along with studying abroad and noticing how nice it is in places (northern Europe) where there are hardly any homeless people and everyone’s life choices aren’t dictated solely by fiscal reward, to make me start questioning. I happily voted for Clinton’s re-election, even though I wasn’t a huge fan, and by the time the Lewinsky nonsense went down, I was done with the GOP. I didn’t, at the time, realize how not terribly liberal Clnton was and had no sense for how badly his tringulation and centrism would hurt progressivism’s ability to speak up for itself for at least a generation. I wouldn’t consider myself a politically mature animal until I was about 30.

    In short, good for this kid – he’s thinking for himself before most of us do, and will probably be fully-self-aware politically before most of us are.

  113. 113
    Comrade Mary says:

    I cringe and run every time I see any kid (defined as high schooler or younger) being given a lot of attention as a spokesperson for any political or social issues. I don’t care how liberal or conservative they are: I have absolutely no need to hear from them at this point in their lives.

    Apart from the compassion I feel for a kid being made into a show pony and target for their opponents, I just cannot stand listening to a barely developed human being piping and prattling away before they have developed the ability to cloak their immense vanity a little better. I am often embarrassed for them. In addition, kids generally don’t have any genuine insights that deserve to be communicated to a large audience, and all the oohing and aahing that surrounds their awkward efforts turns me into the sourest of misanthropes.

    Bright, wonderful adults generally do start as bright, wonderful kids. They often are amazing company one on one as they show flashes of adult understanding before going back to being fun, bright kids. But none of them have it in them to manage even a TED talk length communication worthy of dispassionate attention from adults.

    Let them grow, let them compete and show off with their peers, and after they’ve actually developed a bit of real life experience and wisdom, I’d love to hear from them. Until that happens, I will be diving to change the web site/tv station/radio station that showcases yet another precocious little fucker.

    So kudos to Jonathan Krohn for the hard thinking and questioning that has brought him to this point. I wish him well in the future. Maybe he could take a complete break from the media during university so he has more time to think and develop in private. And curses on the parents who encouraged his show pony phase before he was even shaving daily.

  114. 114
    GxB says:

    Glad to see he’s past that stage, funny as Maher did a good bit on precocious propagandists (including this kid) a couple weeks back. We’re all works in progress, unfortunately the cons seem to take the ban on infrastructural improvement all the way down to the personal level, so keep evolving kid.

  115. 115
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    17 is awfully young to sign oneself up for a torrent of poorly-articulated death threats. I hope that kid is OK.

  116. 116

    @Cris (without an H): That’s why they read Heinlein too. BAM!

    No, at that age they read Heinlein for the dirty parts.

  117. 117
    gnomedad says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    Apart from the compassion I feel for a kid being made into a show pony and target for their opponents, I just cannot stand listening to a barely developed human being piping and prattling away before they have developed the ability to cloak their immense vanity a little better.

    One of the things wingers tell themselves is that libruls are evil and anyone with a bit of common sense can see it. So, you know, “even a kid can see it.”

  118. 118
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Marilyn Merlot: HA!!

    Since Krohn is heading for NY for a few years, I guess he’ll become even more liberal. Truth has a liberal bias. Sorry Repubs.

  119. 119
    Donald G says:

    Let’s see, at six years old, I was pro-Nixon. (He was the president, after all, and at that age, I didn’t quite understand this democracy-thing.)
    At 10, I enthusiastically pro- Jimmy Carter.
    At 14 and 18, it was John Anderson for me. (No way in hell would I vote for Ronald Reagan, although I supported Gary Hart in the 1984 Democratic Primaries).
    At 22, Michael Dukakis (reluctantly, although I supported Hart again, both pre- and post-Donna Rice)
    At 26, Bill Clinton (again reluctantly, although I supported Tom Harkin in the primaries).
    At 30, Clinton again (this time, enthusiastically).
    At 34, Al Gore.
    At 38, George W. Bush (The nomination of Kerry, which I considered a mistake of Dukakis level proportions, helped turn me wingnut for far too many years. If the ticket had been Edwards/Kerry, instead of the other way around, I would’ve voted Democratic in 2004.).
    At 42, John McCain (still infected with wingnuttiana. I’m not particularly proud of that vote, given McCain’s behavior in the years since his defeat, and if I could change it, I would.)
    At 46. Barack Obama, having detoxed from the wingnuttiana in 2009.

  120. 120
    PopeRatzo says:

    The Right-Wing bloggers are going to crucify this poor kid.

    Malkin, Zombie Breitbart, etc are going to go full ugly on this one.

  121. 121
    buckyblue says:

    With the Maher thing, he said that when 14 year old kids can write books and give speeches espousing your philosophy, your philosophy is made for 14 year olds. Since Maddow was on the show he went on to say that you don’t see any 14 yr. olds imitating Maddow. True dat.

  122. 122
    Steve Crickmore says:

    My favorite magazine is the NewYorker, too. It is hard to see anyone developing conservative faith, from reading this magazine. I wonder about the migration of liberal bloggers, from conseravtive pasts; Arianna Huffington made the same journey as Cole.. I confess I became a liberal in the UK after seeing the results of old Labour-may still be, because New labour with Blair was probably worse. And then there is for example David Horowitz former Ramparts editor going the other way. But the Republicans now are much more like the John Birch Society than Rockerfeller Republicans. To throw your lot with those who are unyielding global warming deniers, feel gay servicemen and women should not be allowed in the miltary, or who talk seriously about the threat of a radical caliphate empire from Spain to Indonesia..(even when Obama has his most machiavellian days and liberals feel disillusioned), that would be such a totally regressive move.

  123. 123
    Woodrowfan says:

    I refuse to read the comments on Politico. I suspect many of the rightie regulars there are flaming the kid up one side and down the other….

    Always been kind of a Humphrey Democrat on social issues and Scoop Jackson on foreign policy. Have been creeping leftward on the foreign policy after 9/11 though…

  124. 124
    burnspbesq says:


    OK, let’s recap and then move on.

    The biggest Supreme Court case of our time, one in which the Court will either validate or kill off the biggest change to our social compact since the civil rights/Great Society era of the 1960s, comes up for a vote.

    Your side wins.

    And seemingly the only thing you care about is that one obscure commenter on one obscure blog, echoing the consensus of informed opinion in the legal academy, failed to anticipate that two Justices would fail to follow their own previous writing on the issue.

    What part of “a W is a W” are you struggling to comprehend?

    I don’t know enough synonyms for “fucked up” to adequately describe how fucked up your mindset is.

  125. 125
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist:

    Yeah, that too. I definitely feel bad for him for the shitstorm of hatred he’s about to be subjected to.

  126. 126
    Violet says:


    I refuse to read the comments on Politico. I suspect many of the rightie regulars there are flaming the kid up one side and down the other….

    I’ve skimmed the comments and they seem to be mostly supportive. Even the wingnuts are flaming “libbers” instead of flaming him. I was pleasantly surprised.

  127. 127
    shortstop says:

    @burnspbesq: I couldn’t be happier that my side won, and the dozens of posts I’ve made to that effect since Thursday morning make that clear to all but the feeblest intellect. (You know where I’m going with that, right? No?)

    The point, our awkward sidestepper, is not that you were wrong about the count. The issue is that you spent months obnoxiously berating everyone else, flogging your prediction as the only possible correct one, and now that it’s over, you’re still pretending that it was a simple numerical accident rather than your entire premise–that at least seven justices would, in the end, opine with professional integrity–being wrong. You’re still denying the depth of the problem on the court with your fantastical statement that Bush v Gore was a one-off, because it’s easier than admitting that your judgment was off. Now that is fucked up.

    So again, please explain the constitutional grounds behind the ACA dissent. Love to hear them.

  128. 128
    Rome Again says:

    I have a theory that while this boy heard a lot of talking points that he parroted, apparently none of the right-minded people he came in contact with convinced him that he had to close his mind to outside information. That was their fatal mistake.

  129. 129
    Rome Again says:


    On Free Republic they are speculating that he has a brain tumor.

  130. 130
    opie jeanne says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:
    when I was in college and still very much a Republican (Mom and Dad were), I didn’t like the kids who were in the Republican club on campus, not at all. I found the guys to be unattractive, privileged assholes, and this was at a Cal State University. The girls were just annoying. I knew other kids who identified as Republicans who couldn’t stand them either, and most of them have moved pretty far to the left since then.

  131. 131
    BruinKid says:

    Bill Maher’s New Rule two weeks ago mentioned Krohn in part, with this overall message.

    And finally, New Rule: If a 14-year-old can deliver your message, it’s not because he’s gifted, it’s because intellectually, you’re a child.

    He focused on West Virginia’s Caiden Cowher, the kid with his own radio show that claimed Obama is turning kids gay. Maybe his rule is what prompted Politico to find out just what happened to Krohn since then.

  132. 132
    Soonergrunt says:

    @burnspbesq: Next stop, the front page!

  133. 133
    different-church-lady says:

    Nothing at all surprising about a 13 year old being able to convincingly parrot the theater he’s surrounded by.

    What is surprising… or perhaps just disheartening… is that an entire political movement could miss the fact that it’s merely parroting and think it was somehow meaningful.

  134. 134
    mellowjohn says:

    i liked ike in ’56, but i was only nine. four years later i was all in for kennedy and have never voted for a republican presidential candidate – tho i did vote for anderson in ’80.

  135. 135
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Culture of Truth: Oh, yes and it’s more than one or two. The Political Science department of the College of Arts and Sciences may have a liberal bent, but remember NYU has a business school too.

  136. 136
    PurpleGirl says:

    @burnspbesq: Wrong. The undergraduate Stern College is at the Washington Square campus. The graduate school is down in the financial district.

  137. 137
    hells littlest angel says:

    This will break the hearts of a lot of Republicans who were counting on him to save the country in 2032.

  138. 138
  139. 139
    mai naem says:

    I also hope this kid’s ready for the Wingnut Attack Machine. Maybe Sandra Fluke can reach out to him and give him some pointers in dealing with wingnuts.

    I’ve always been a liberal even in Reagan’s heyday. Part of it comes from being an immigrant from a third world country. I remember there being only one other liberal in my government class in HS and, oh yeah, the teacher was a conservative Mormon man! Most of my college friends were conservatives. Obama’s the first president, I feel, in my lifetime who was cooler than the conservative candidate in addition to being the smarter. I know WJC is the Big Dawg now and won two elections but WJC always had his bimbo eruptions that gave off the eau de sleaze. Anyhoo. I think the Dems recently have lost the “cool” and “manly man” contest and a lot of people vote based on that which is dumb, dumb, dumb.

  140. 140
    Sadie says:

    Wait, has someone checked to make sure he hasn’t skipped his epilepsy meds??

  141. 141
    brantl says:

    @burnspbesq: Look who’s talking. Quit the Catholics, yet?

  142. 142
    brantl says:

    @burnspbesq: You really can’t admit when you’re wrong, can you?

  143. 143
    DavidTC says:

    People looking for whatever evil liberal influence this kid has…it’s me. Mwhahaha.

    No, I’m kidding. I haven’t seen him in years.

    But I knew Jonathan Krohn way back in 2007. He played ‘Dill’ and I was the stage manager for a volunteer production of To Kill a Mockingbird here in Georgia. Right before he got big in 2008. I remember reading about him giving some speech, that name tripping a bell somewhere (I don’t generally remember people’s real names until they’ve done at least two productions with me.;), and me finding a picture of him and going ‘Whoa, wait. That’s Dill! That’s the conservative kid!’.

    And it’s worth pointing out that he wasn’t just repeating conservative talking points. He actually understood the entire conservative philosophy, a hell of a lot better than I ever did. And, at this point, as the Republican party had already started to veer away from actual conservationism, it’s not like he was a hardline Republican either.

    Also, as far as I could tell, this was self-taught…his mother wasn’t anywhere near as political as he was. The kid didn’t have someone shoving himself into the spotlight…he shoved himself into it.

    Of course, being a pre-teen, he had no actual _experience_ in the world. So any political discussions would actually go nowhere. You’d point out some actual harm to fix, he’d explain in broad abstract terms what Conservative would do, and how the problem was because liberals had done X, and under conservatism the problem would be ‘solved’, despite the fact they clearly would not be.

    Incidentally, no 17 year-old kid with _experience in theatre_ is going to be anti-gay.

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