No more ‘Little Mr. Conservative’

jonathankrohn

Jonathan Krohn, 17, is once again making news after going public with his changed his political views. In 2009 the then 13 year-old penned a book , "Defining Conservatism" endorsed by the likes of Newt Gingrich and Bill Bennett. Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com

Marla Krohn’s cellphone rang Tuesday, with a friend of 34 years on the other end.

“Have a nice life,” the friend said. It was a breakup call.

Krohn’s sin? Her 17-year-old son Jonathan, a former child prodigy of the Republican political circuit dubbed “Little Mr. Conservative” by the New York Times, had strayed into unforgivable territory.

That’s right. Last week, Jonathan Krohn declared, to the same national media that had marveled at him as a miniature Newt Gingrich, that he was something other than conservative. And that he was headed to New York University to study Friedrich “God Is Dead” Nietzsche and filmmaking.

It gets worse. Marla and Doug Krohn’s teenager, in full rebellion, has endorsed both gay marriage and President Barack Obama.

When a columnist called on the modest Krohn house in north Gwinnett County, the grieving mother bravely tried to face down the family calamity. “He’s my son. What am I going to do? Throw him out because he has a different view?” Marla Krohn asked. “His dad and I love him. We support him. I mean, you could have worse. He’s going to NYU. He got a scholarship. How many kids get scholarships for that?”

Surely, any parent who has been required to post bail will sympathize.

You might ask: What 17-year-old hasn’t wanted to publicly ditch the geeky 13-year-old that he once was? But the very question is proof that you didn’t witness the picture-perfect splash that Jonathan Krohn made at the 2009 gathering of the Conservative Political Action Conference, the premier annual gathering of GOP activists held in Washington.

Jonathan was Christian. He was home schooled. And he wowed the most important Republicans in the nation with a surprisingly eloquent, three-minute plug for the book he’d just written, “Defining Conservatism.”

There was something vaguely New Testamentish about an articulate boy coming to lecture the temple elders on the tenets of their beliefs. The C-SPAN video went viral, and the world of conservative media invested heavily. “Fox & Friends” became Jonathan’s best friends. Talk radio called nonstop. The boy became a featured speaker at annual tea party bashes at the state Capitol.

“You were a very nice young man in a suit,” I told Jonathan.

“I was,” he agreed. “And that was about it.”

We sat at the kitchen table in the Krohn household. Jonathan, in a T-shirt and shorts, with his hair grown into curls, now handles his own public relations. His mother had disappeared upstairs.

Jonathan recently graduated from North Gwinnett High School, but he explained that this wasn’t a rejection of home schooling. “I was there to get [Advance Placement] credits so I could be competitive in college.”

At least one thing about Jonathan remains constant. He remains an accomplished talker. Having a conversation with him is something like exchanging views with an opened fire hydrant. The words come out not in a stream, but a torrent of consciousness.

In a conversation that swam hither and yon, Jonathan said that his wandering from the traditions of home schooled conservatism wasn’t a surprise to any of his friends. “I’ve been saying it on Facebook for three years. But nobody wanted to listen to it,” he said. Then the Washington-based website Politico.com posted its catch-up piece last week.

It was 2009 all over again, but everyone had switched sides.

MSNBC, the liberal counterpart to Fox News, quickly congratulated Jonathan for his newly gained insight and invited him for a pair of interviews. Fox News ignored him. But the Daily Caller, the D.C. conservative Internet outlet, declared the 17-year-old to be a fraud and worse.

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Many tea partyers have been forgiving, the teenager said, but others have been less so. “One guy said on Twitter, ‘You betrayed God and William Bennett,’” the teenager said — though we will omit the slur at the tail end of the 140 characters. “I love the equality there.”

Bennett, the talk radio host and former U.S. secretary of education, wrote the foreword for “Defining Conservatism.”

Jonathan said he was somewhat prepared for the harsh reaction. “There’s this ideological partisanship where everybody is put in their little bubbles — but if you leave the bubble just a little bit, you’re an evil, horrible person who deserves to be shot down,” he said. “I don’t want to be a part of that.”

“This is why social conservatism was the first real thing that left me, because there’s such a homophobic movement within the conservative movement. We’ve all seen it. It’s not like everybody’s a homophobe. I’m saying there’s a huge presence of those people, though,” the young man said.

Asked for specifics, Jonathan pointed to his 2010 return to the CPAC gathering in Washington, where GOProud, a conservative gay rights group, received a harsh reception. “Why would I want to be part of a group that shouts down people just because of their sexual orientation?” he asked.

Jonathan says he delved into modern philosophy as an escape from his bubble. “I don’t think I’m grown up,” he said. “I just think I’m more grown up than I was. I just didn’t want people calling me ‘that conservative kid’ over and over again.”

The one charge that stings is the accusation that, three years ago, he was no more than an actor reciting his lines. His mother teaches the craft, and he had some local stage experience before he hit CPAC.

“I was not acting a part,” he said. “I said stuff that I didn’t know enough about to believe in. I knew enough about it to say something. I didn’t know enough to have a conversation about it.”

A strange voice interrupted, a reminder that it might be unfair to ask a teenager to justify his childhood.

“Priority One message from Starfleet, coming in on secured channel.”

“Sorry. That’s what my phone does when I get a message from Facebook or something,” Jonathan winced, pulling out an iPhone with a cracked face. “Look at this. Mark Ruffalo, who played the Hulk on ‘The Avengers’ — he tweeted about it. I was able to get the Hulk seal of approval.”

The discussion shifts to the young man’s future career as a filmmaker. Yes, he has a screenplay in his pocket. No, he’ll never make a movie about a young 13-year-old who stuns a mammoth gathering of conservatives.

His family once received an offer to sell Jonathan’s life story. It was to be used as the basis for a sitcom called “Little Mr. Conservative.” They turned down the offer. “That would have put me in a box the rest of my life that I couldn’t get out of,” Jonathan said.

Then maybe, I ventured to the young man and his mother, who had now returned, Jonathan could be the next Woody Allen.

His mother shook her head at the exiting visitor. “I don’t like him,” she said.

And there are certain lines that a son doesn’t dare cross.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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47 comments Add your comment

Ralph

July 4th, 2012
6:14 pm

I predict that he will be a conservative again by the time he is 40, perhaps 30.

Kris

July 4th, 2012
6:22 pm

What!!! Newts son?

God Help us.

Impeach DEAL

Reelect President OBAMA

Sven

July 4th, 2012
7:06 pm

Big whoop! The rise of the tea creeps led many to the same realization. This poor dud of a kid has a lifetime of atomic wedgies waiting for him.

Tom

July 4th, 2012
7:32 pm

And yet another bit of anecdotal evidence of how the moonbat fringe within the GOP is scaring away those who otherwise could lead the next generation into the REAL liberty-loving America our founders envisioned.

Tom

July 4th, 2012
7:32 pm

…and yes, that means you, Sadie.

granger

July 4th, 2012
7:35 pm

At 13 he was home schooled. At 17 he is a government school graduate. I think that says it all. The one regret I have is that I let my kids attend government high school. They did not go completely over to the dark side like Jonathan, though.

kris

July 4th, 2012
7:36 pm

I wonder what this wiz Kid thinks of his buddy nattie DIRTY DEAL?

I see Double dip DEAL ..Deal has named his business Cronies flunkeys and two other flunkeys contributors to the Georgia Ports Authority, a plum assignment that can open doors for businessmen…. Deal is doing what previous governors have done, “but you would think that if government officials were truly concerned about ethics in government, they would avoid circumstances that could be construed to have conflict, such as this one.”
Please vote this crooked GOP clown out of office.
Run do not walk to the nearest Impeachment place to IMPEACH this CROOK!
OBAMA 2012

In Other news: The United States government has assured its citizens that, much like zombies, mermaids probably do not exist

DannyX

July 4th, 2012
7:58 pm

How is this news?

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

buzzkill

July 4th, 2012
8:14 pm

Must be scary for conservatives to see the brainwashed awaken.

Carole

July 4th, 2012
8:31 pm

It may not be news, but it’s an interesting human interest story. I bet it was BIG news when he was 13 and spewing conservative views that he barely understood.

Deb

July 4th, 2012
8:51 pm

He’s a rino.

native

July 4th, 2012
9:13 pm

Well done, young man. In all your accomplishments and whatever direction you choose in the future.

captguitarman

July 4th, 2012
9:31 pm

Like you, Kris, at 7:36, I have also expressed similar concerns about Deal and the Georgia legislature and how they all do “bidness.” But, if you have any sense of the history of the Georgia legislature, especially recent history going back to Zell Miller, King Roy, What, Me Worry? Sonny Perdue, you might have concluded, as I have, the bidness culture ingrained in the Georgia legislature has little to do with party affiliations. Both Dems and Pubs have been ethically challenged under the Dome for some time now. Zell and King Roy would have done exactly what the Real Deal just did. In the immortal words of Burt Reynolds, “you must be from out of state.” Oh yeah, from now on, please don’t be so hypocritical as to trash the Georgia Pubs while giving a positive shout out to Obama . . . that is, if you know anything about the Chicago political machine that produced Obama. If you don’t, study up on it. You just might havea change of heart, and will certainly understand that cheering Chicago pols while trashing Georgia pols is really not very bright.

td

July 4th, 2012
9:36 pm

“Show me a young Conservative and I’ll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I’ll show you someone with no brains.”
― Winston Churchill

60 to 75% of every generation becomes more and more conservative the older they become.

skel0640

July 4th, 2012
9:40 pm

Hillary-Krohn 2016!!!!!!! But he will not be old enough to be Vice President. What a shame!!!!

skel0640

July 4th, 2012
9:42 pm

td- I think you must have got prematurely old. The young conservative becomes the old reactionary. Sad!!!

td

July 4th, 2012
9:57 pm

skel0640

July 4th, 2012
9:42 pm

I voted Democratic until I was 22. Then I realized that while I was working 3 jobs to pay for my college education that there were people on campus partying, taking their studies lightly and most of them had Pell grants. I then decided to start the young Republicans chapter at my college and then after taking Newt’s class it has been conservative all the way since then.

Kris

July 4th, 2012
9:58 pm

captguitarman July 4th, 2012 9:31 pm
“Like you, Kris, at 7:36, I have also expressed similar concerns about DIRTY Deal.”

Your point…Ga’s past is littered with corruption and with people like you probably will continue.

President Obama was about change…I’m about change. Are YOU proud that GA.
IS LAST in
Education
Political Corruption LAWS
Just to name a few.
GA IS FIRST
IN HOME FORECLOSURES
UNEMPLOYMENT

Hope your are proud if this. I for one Want change. I’m willing to vote for change.
Vote the GOP scum out…Impeach or recall DIRTY DEAL and arrest his cronies.

OBAMA 2012

Will in Roswell

July 4th, 2012
10:44 pm

I have to say that I am disappointed in the news about the Port Authority. Tarbutton is very wealthy, so he did not accept the appointment for money. He is most capable and has many contacts that can help the Port and the State. However, I am disappointed about the other two. First, the governor should not have appointed two from hometown Gainesville, as there are many others throughout the Georgia who are capable. And, then, to make it worse, he definitely should not have appointed his former business partner, an association which caused much distress during his campaign for governor. I don’t know. I am one of his friends as well, but, unfortunately, he didn’t ask me about this. If he had, I would have told him frankly that two of the appointments were a mistake. He has many other friends in the State who would have served him and Georgia better.

hat

July 4th, 2012
11:07 pm

Hey kris, Deal is needed as governor to balance out the liberal party machine that has gripped Atlanta since the late ’60s.

Mister

July 4th, 2012
11:08 pm

He really hit the nail on the head when he explained about stepping outside of his bubble. I think if more uneducated “Christians” realized where they are is not the center of the Universe, they might actually learn something on their own. The only reason this kid was dubbed as the “Little Conservative” is because like most Conservatives, he was only able to repeat what he had heard over and over and over and over regardless of if he believed it. Enlightenment is a great thing.

hat

July 4th, 2012
11:09 pm

ps. IMPEACH Reed

DannyX

July 4th, 2012
11:20 pm

“How is this news?”

Its news because Republicans thought it was real cute parading this kid around before the kid fully matured. Now that this kid is grown up and has learned to think on his own Republicans no longer find it so cute.

RAMZAD

July 4th, 2012
11:33 pm

Republicans are all about putting people in boxes- from that you get groupthink and the castration of anyone who dare to even try to think for him or herself. Pathetic outfit those; Repukelicans.

Kris

July 5th, 2012
12:20 am

@ Hat “Hey kris, Deal is needed as governor to balance out the liberal party”

For balance you need two equal parts Deal is minus a few parts…2 million in debt, was almost removed from congress for ethics VIOLATIONS . Real simple he pissed off the GA Jackasses and the put him up against barns….knowing he might win…HA HA the joke is DEAL and the joke is on DEAL…..

Vote the GOP scum out…Impeach or recall DIRTY DEAL and arrest his cronies. AS for REED Recall him too.

OBAMA 2012

hiram

July 5th, 2012
12:31 am

The scariest Republicans are at the top of the hierarchy, the true psychopaths among us, who through their anti science campaign, are willing to destroy everyone, including their own descendants, and thanks to the Supreme Crazies, they are well on their way to accomplishing it. Glaciers melting, the Greenland ice sheet sliding into the ocean, the polar ice caps melting, 300 tornados in one day, oceans rising, etc., and they continue on down their path to armageddon – all the while, the sheeple are transfixed on more important matters, like Tom and Katie…

Kris

July 5th, 2012
12:54 am

Hello Hiram, “Tom and Katie…” So unlike you!

Did you and the god particle land in the wrong time Zone.

Vote the GOP scum out…Impeach or recall DIRTY DEAL and arrest his cronies. AS for REED Recall him too.

OBAMA 2012

Attack Dog

July 5th, 2012
6:15 am

There is no record of Winston Churchill saying or writing anything about age and political philosophy. Based on the current neo-con Dixecratic thought, they have no brains when they are young and no brains or heart when they get older.

Buckhead Boy

July 5th, 2012
6:42 am

So, td, if you had been able to attend an Ivy League school where most of the partiers were “legacies”, coming from Republican families with oddles of money — like say, George W. Bush — that would have sustained you as a Democrat? Sounds to me like your politics are just informed by envy — envy of anyone who is getting something you’re not.

Stoned Mountain

July 5th, 2012
7:53 am

The moral of the story —- don’t let ‘em out of the home school! Keep ‘em locked up in the house and they’s stay conservative!!!

Bob

July 5th, 2012
8:03 am

What happened? He matured, became exposed to more of the world and its diversity and began thinking for himself, and realized that the problems and issues we all face cannot be crammed into the neat little black and white boxes of rightness and wrongness espoused by the right wing. He somehow escaped from the gravity of the black hole of lies of the ultra-conservatives and began seeing the world as more nuanced, and requiring more thoughtfulness in addressing its problems. Regardless of where he winds up philosphically (and, like most of us, he will probably continue to evolve as he learns), he should be congratulated for his growth and, indeed, courage.

Last Man Laying Down

July 5th, 2012
8:21 am

Many of today’s conservatives were liberals in their idealistic teens and 20s. Our ways of thinking about the world should evolve over time. No news here. How do Dems treat those who leave the reservation? Perhaps that would make an interesting comparison.

Aquagirl

July 5th, 2012
8:32 am

“This is why social conservatism was the first real thing that left me[...]It’s not like everybody’s a homophobe. I’m saying there’s a huge presence of those people, though,” the young man said.

Note to Republicans: gay bashing is an action. These are the consequences.

No More Republican

July 5th, 2012
8:35 am

The republican party is doom…Romney will lose by a landslide.
Romney had the same health care plan just like Obama. Romney is bad for the republican party.

lolcat

July 5th, 2012
8:37 am

@granger: “At 13 he was home schooled. At 17 he is a government school graduate. I think that says it all. The one regret I have is that I let my kids attend government high school.”

Funny you should bring that up. Statistically, people with a better education have a tendency to lean towards the left. Why is it that when right-wingers talk about “Home Schooling” it comes out sounding like “Brain Washing”?

honested

July 5th, 2012
8:39 am

Pay attention all you home schooled drones…IF you pay attention and follow the spark of intelligence that resides in your head, you CAN break free of the conserrrrrrrrrvative programming!!

You can think freely, act freely and accept the fact that we are ALL Citizens in a SOCIETY and interdependent to do the correct thing every day!

This kid exemplifies a victory of intelligence over enforced dullardry!

Last Man Laying Down

July 5th, 2012
8:59 am

Home schooling does sound a bit odd, but I would disagree that a better education is related to political bent. I guess lolcat is talking about those uneducated people who cling to their guns and their god. Unless lolcat has something to back up that assumption it sounds like narrow-mindedness and intolerance, rather than what we’re supposed to think of when we hear from the open-minded, tolerant left. Where is the tolerance on the left? Or is it that the left thinks the right possesses all the intolerance in the universe, such that the left are the possessors of all tolerance. Strange world, with lots of ironies and a whole lot of ignorance.

Shar

July 5th, 2012
9:09 am

I, too, find this piece little other than human interest. The news of the governor’s appointments to the Port Authority is much more substantive, and far more troubling than the opinion change of someone who can’t vote yet.

These extremely questionable appointments were timed to garner the least possible scrutiny, having been announced on the Fourth of July. That alone indicates there is plenty to hide. The fact that Deal’s erstwhile business partner in the politically-protected salvage business that forced Deal to slink out of Congress hours before an ethics report was to be issued raises every red flag.

These positions, as the AJC pointed out, directly influence thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars. The governor has decided to put inexperienced, ethically challenged buddies in these slots at a time when the Savannah port is at a critical juncture.

Why is the AJC blogging about this unimportant child instead of these compromised appointments?

DannyX

July 5th, 2012
9:13 am

“Where is the tolerance on the left?”

Gosh Lying Down, you sound like you need a hug. The left has a lot of tolerance for the intolerant right.

We love the hater, hate the hate.

hiram

July 5th, 2012
9:24 am

@shar
Even more important than our hillbilly, good ole’ boy governor, and his gang that can’t shoot straight, is the banking cartel who crashed the world’s economy, and have gone completely unpunished and are firmly entrenched in our government, and poised to do it again. Meanwhile, back to Tom and Katie – it’s just awful…

Read all about it(the banking cartel, not Tom, sorry) here:

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog

GaBlue

July 5th, 2012
9:37 am

As a parent, I can understand giving in to the urge to show off the little one’s talents to a larger group of people. This bright kid was able to offer intelligent prose and a captivating verbal delivery of conservo-tron talking points, and with his fresh youthful face, breathe much needed life into their stale, rancid old platitudes. OF COURSE they applauded his appearance at the conference! How delightful!

(That they allowed him to be USED by Murdoch’s corporate hacks… not so much.)

Nevertheless, a child that age — no matter how bright — cannot begin to comprehend the real life issues relating to the dogma he was espousing. He had not yet graduated from any school (home or otherwise), sought financing for higher education, handled his own living arrangements, supported himself or others financially, joined himself in marriage, reproduced, or faced the hundred other challenges that all adults must eventually face.

I do appreciate and listen to youthful perspectives because their issues from their vantage points are pertinent indeed. But holding up children as experts in matters that require life experience to understand is just silly.

If these parents are embarrassed now, it’s their own fault. If their feelings are hurt by the ugliness of jerks they thought were their friends, then they need some REAL friends, because those uptighty righties who spurn them now don’t know the meaning of friendship!

Bless their hearts, and best of luck to this nice young man as he embarks on his educational journey!

Attack Dog

July 5th, 2012
9:42 am

1. Jonathan came to the realization that neo-conservativism is not the be all and end all for every political debate. 2. Why do I get the feeling that Jonathan’s views changed when he started taking advanced classes.

GAMECHANGER

July 5th, 2012
10:56 am

The more people are allowed to think on their own (not be pressured by family or a party that makes you pledge your allegiance to them and no taxes), the more folks will leave the right for the left.

The right is just too extreme.

You betcha!

The enemy within

July 5th, 2012
11:48 am

When he finally becomes a libertarian then we will know he has finally grown up and found a stable and consistent philosophy on liberty and the economy. Until then he is just like every other political flake in america – without principle, without sound economic understanding, and without respect for individual liberty.

Ayn Rand Was a Hypocrite

July 5th, 2012
1:23 pm

who lived out her years relying on Social Security….but you won’t hear the libertarians acknowledging that untidy fact.

Self_Made

July 5th, 2012
3:54 pm

I’d like to know WHEN and were td attended college. That there were enough people on campus receiving Pell grants to tick him off means that he either has a very low threshold or he attended college in the very early 80’s. I came from a single parent family and couldn’t even smell a Pell grant. I had to work and maintain scholarships. I still don’t get how people can be so resentful of what some receive, but completely ambivalent to what those same folks may be trying to overcome.