Monday, November 12, 2012

Georgia autistic teen writes sophisticated political blog

From WXIA-TV in Georgia:

DUNWOODY, Ga. -- Asher Newman sits at his computer, proofreading his latest entry aloud: "A better question is, are you better off than when Obama took office? My answer to that is, it depends."

It's a busy time of year when you're a political blogger. Everybody wants your predictions.

"I think Romney has a good chance of winning the popular vote," he said. "But I think Obama is probably going to win the electoral vote."

And everybody wants to argue your predictions. Asher sits in his living room, saying to his mother, "Israel's going to be fine, mom."

Asher has plenty of things that cut into his blogging time, like his duties as a ninth grader at Riverwood High School.

Still, there is little to deter Asher from his true passion -- politics, and his opinion. Here are a few of those opinions. "I feel we need a national sales tax, like two percent on top of the local sales tax, and we need a more simplified tax code. We need to raise the Social Security age because when Social Security was created, the average life expectancy wasn't even 65. Now it's 78."

Asher also has autism. He explains it this way. "It's kind of like you don't know what to do socially."
"Children with autism, they're very black and white," said his mom Susan. "There's no grey."

And Asher knows this could cause trouble for him down the road. "I feel like if I ever have to have a wife and she says 'Does my butt look big in this dress?' I'm going to say 'Yes it does,' and then she's going to get mad at me."

But Asher can deal with mad. He is a confident, mostly straight 'A' student whose encyclopedic knowledge of politics keeps him more informed than most, even his teachers.

Joel Kadish is one of Asher's teachers and is the Student Government faculty advisor. He and Asher discuss the election, including other races around the country.

Asked if he feels like he's talking to a 14 year old, Joel replied, "Definitely feel like I'm talking to someone beyond my years. The time it takes to be so informed about so many things. I mean, I teach the stuff."
Asher is holding his first political office -- class treasurer. He smiles. "No one ran against me, and I was pretty satisfied because I had to put in no effort, or speeches, or anything."

And while he gives the electoral edge to Obama, don't expect a ringing endorsement. "I am in favor of Obama being re-elected. I mean I don't like him that much, but the problem is I don't like the alternative either."

All that knowledge -- but no girlfriend, yet.

"I wish I did but I don't," Asher said. At 14, he is smart enough to know, there are some things even more complicated than politics. "I probably don't have good enough social skills for starters. I'm not exactly a charmer. I'm not Bill Clinton."