Commentary Magazine


Topic: Conservative Political Action Conference

The Problem With Child Activists

Politico reports the breakout child star of CPAC 2009, Jonathan Krohn, has given up on conservatism and become an ardent Obama supporter:

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.”

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Politico reports the breakout child star of CPAC 2009, Jonathan Krohn, has given up on conservatism and become an ardent Obama supporter:

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.”

This really should serve as a lesson for every conservative who humored Krohn, praised him as a child prodigy and applauded the wisdom in his book on conservative philosophy. Not that the Right should have attacked his work, but the condescension was grating (the greatest honor for the 13-year-old Krohn was when Jeremy Lott actually took his tome seriously and panned it for The American Spectator).

You also don’t have to disagree with the politics of Krohn’s CPAC speech to find it a little creepy — maybe because there’s something creepy about child political activists in general. Most appear to have been pushed into it by politically-overzealous parents, and they all seem to serve one of two main purposes: 1.) shaming political leaders or the public into doing something vague and idealistic, i.e. stopping world hunger, saving the polar bears or transforming the Korean DMZ into a “World Peace Park.” 2.) encouraging other activists by saying the “next generation” cares about their cause.

In reality, all child activists prove is that children are still able to regurgitate facts fed to them by activist parents.

And that’s where the real tragedy of the Krohn story lies. What were his parents thinking when they pushed him into the national spotlight as a “conservative pundit” at just 13-years-old? He’s clearly embarrassed about it now, judging from his comments in the Politico article. But his short stint was profitable. Krohn had a book tour; he plugged his work on Fox News; he got a gig with the Premier Speakers Bureau. It also resulted in plenty of attention for him and his parents. Now that Krohn claims he didn’t really grasp what he was saying at the time, the questions remain: why didn’t his parents realize this and put a stop to it? What were they getting out of this?

It’s a shame Krohn still has to live with the mockery that comes with that attention, especially because he never really asked for any of it in the first place. The Right should keep that in mind next time a “conservative child prodigy” comes along.

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CPAC Head: Conservatives Must Unite Behind Romney

Mitt Romney is racking up some key endorsements today, including one from House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy. But the biggest indicator that the conservative movement is starting to coalesce behind Romney is today’s endorsement from the head of the American Conservative Union, Al Cardenas.

Cardenas, the figurehead behind the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), gently tells the other candidates he thinks it’s time for them to step aside. From his Daily Caller op-ed:

As of today, it is clear neither Senator Santorum nor Speaker Gingrich nor Congressman Paul can amass the majority of delegates required to be the Republican nominee. Their only paths to victory feature a contested, anarchic floor fight just weeks before Americans vote on whether or not to give President Obama a second term.

With all due respect to my fellow conservative leaders determined to oppose Governor Romney, that is not a worthy endeavor. For the sake of our Republic, I’m not willing to wait until the Republican National Convention to sort this out. It’s time to unite behind a worthy presidential candidate, build our organization and raise the resources necessary to defeat the liberal electoral machine. …

Governor Romney is an honorable, worthy, competent, conservative candidate for our next commander-in-chief. I’m proud to support his campaign for president.

I’m calling on my fellow conservatives, for goals both lofty and pragmatic, to join me in supporting the only candidate that can ensure President Obama’s legacy is limited to just four years of fiscal irresponsibility and disregard for our Constitution, and not eight.

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Mitt Romney is racking up some key endorsements today, including one from House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy. But the biggest indicator that the conservative movement is starting to coalesce behind Romney is today’s endorsement from the head of the American Conservative Union, Al Cardenas.

Cardenas, the figurehead behind the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), gently tells the other candidates he thinks it’s time for them to step aside. From his Daily Caller op-ed:

As of today, it is clear neither Senator Santorum nor Speaker Gingrich nor Congressman Paul can amass the majority of delegates required to be the Republican nominee. Their only paths to victory feature a contested, anarchic floor fight just weeks before Americans vote on whether or not to give President Obama a second term.

With all due respect to my fellow conservative leaders determined to oppose Governor Romney, that is not a worthy endeavor. For the sake of our Republic, I’m not willing to wait until the Republican National Convention to sort this out. It’s time to unite behind a worthy presidential candidate, build our organization and raise the resources necessary to defeat the liberal electoral machine. …

Governor Romney is an honorable, worthy, competent, conservative candidate for our next commander-in-chief. I’m proud to support his campaign for president.

I’m calling on my fellow conservatives, for goals both lofty and pragmatic, to join me in supporting the only candidate that can ensure President Obama’s legacy is limited to just four years of fiscal irresponsibility and disregard for our Constitution, and not eight.

This is the general conclusion many analysts have been coming to the past few weeks. But Santorum’s campaign has been arguing that his big win in Louisiana during the weekend is a sign Romney isn’t inevitable. The fact that Cardenas published this column right on the heels of Santorum’s victory is a pretty direct repudiation of that argument.

Despite the outcome in Louisiana, the next month looks pretty grim for Santorum. He’s projected to lose in Wisconsin and the handful of other April primaries, and it’s not necessarily a given that he’ll win in his home state of Pennsylvania. It may not be long before he exits the race, though he could be the first candidate to do so. It wouldn’t be a major surprise if Newt Gingrich keeps up his novelty campaign until the convention, and Ron Paul still seems content to play out his own unique delegate strategy.

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