A couple of days ago, I gave a speech to a banquet room full of Teenage Republicans at their annual Washington, D.C. convention. This was a light of hope in an approaching darkness. Coming from across the country, they were energetic, full of good cheer and remarkably well informed on the issues of the day. I was grilled in the Q&A's with questions as deeply informed, sharp and penetrating as any I get when doing television political shows.
And they had an attribute one doesn't encounter every day in Washington: They actually cared and had seriously studied the substance of the policies and events. With such interests and dedication, somehow I don't think many of these kids are going to become Washington journalists, who would be more likely to ask whether an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel would benefit the second-tier candidates' fundraising given the front-loaded nature of the primaries.
Being young political activists, these Teenage Republicans also had an interest in the political process, but their first and deepest line of inquiry was substantive questions about China's economic growth and political instabilities, international currency trends (my answer on that one was rather weak), Iran's hegemonic objectives, and rising Muslim radicalism in Europe, among many other topics.
As an older activist conservative Republican, I was encouraged at the young crop to whom we will be passing the baton (although I plan to keep waddling for many more laps, providence providing, before I make my handoff.)
But then I got home, and made the mistake of reading an article in the New York Times on the news habits of teenagers and young adults as studied by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
As you might guess the news is not good. Or to be more precise, the news is not followed by the young ones studied by this Harvard investigation. Of course, I can sort of understand that reading the news could be a little off-putting, when it takes a half a paragraph (95 letters) just to print the name of the organization doing the studying of kids not following the news.
Unlike my Teenage Republican audience, the nationally representative sample of young adults analyzed by the Joan Shorenstein Center, etc. etc. study found that not only do only 16 percent of 18-30-year-olds read a newspaper regularly, but that most do not "make an appointment with the news every day the way older adults do."
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.