This month, it was really odd to watch a rhetorical contagious appear out from the void and suddenly start appearing anywhere:


It was really kind of weird. To answer Watson’s question as to when this became a thing, it was during the Republican debate before the New Hampshire primary. At least, that was when I first saw it. Everyone claimed that their x-year old child entered the room and noticed that Rubio was repeating himself. Coincidentally, Rubio repeating himself is exactly what everyone on Twitter was talking about.

So why did this particular thing take hold? The most obvious answer is that it was a quick way to convey that it’s not just political geeks on Twitter noticing Rubio’s repetition. It’s a tihng! If my ten year old kid is noticing, then this must be really bad for Rubio! It was, of course, bad for Rubio. It’s less clear, though, that it was the debate performance itself than the news coverage afterwards. But if eight year old kids around the Twitterverse are to be believed, it was noticeable by just about anyone who happened to be entering the room.

It’s still an interesting tack nonetheless. Especially given that it, as demonstrated above, continued afterwards. That people will use others as a device is not surprising. That’s the way people are. But why filter complex political issues through children who are least likely to understand them. Partially, I would guess, a desire for simplicity. It’s so simple that Rubio is a robot or whatever. That Trump is a “scary man.” And it feeds into this notion that children are especially enlightened in a way, able to see through all of the bullspit we erect.

Politics seems increasingly geared towards simplistic narratives. I mean, it’s always been the case that we like our stories simple, but with realignment last decade occurring primarily along culture war lines rather than strong adherence to ideology (to whatever extent that was ever the case) and economics. This is not just a US phenomenon. Over fifteen years ago, George W Bush achieved the presidency largely through cultural affectation. This year, in Canada, Justin Trudeau has done the same. There are the saved and the damned. White hats and black hats.

Nobody understands that better than kids do.


Category: Newsroom

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4 Responses to Put Into The Mouths of Babes

  1. fillyjonk says:

    There may also be an element of the meme of “children are more HONEST than adults,” though I think most parents would question that, at least if they have a child who’s reached the “who broke this lamp?” “I don’t know, not me” stage

  2. Chris says:

    I asked my neighbors 6-month-old what she thought of this post, and she said that she thinks fillyjonk is right, the general idea is that children can see through bullshit, so if you have a child say it, it must be purer and truer.

    Now, why my neighbor taught her 6-month-old to say “bullshit,” I do not know.

  3. Kazzy says:

    My dog agrees.

    My couch remains unconvinced.

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