I find myself sort of offended by this recent Wall Street Journal article comparing Caroline Kennedy to Sarah Palin: http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB123060542110241631-lMyQjAxMDI4MzIwOTYyMDk1Wj.html
While I absolutely do not think that Kennedy should receive any special favors because of her family name, I think that it is absolutely ludicrous to compare this woman to the beauty queen/hunter/sportscaster/PTA mom who thought she could be President of the US of A. Come on, now! I mean, Caroline Kennedy has a law degree from Columbia. She's worked as an attorney, an author, and helped to pass legislation in New York. The woman is no slouch when it comes to activism, or even the political arena. She's grown up around it her entire life. She was the head of Obama's VP selection committee. I don't even think that a person could put the two women, Palin and Kennedy, on the same plane when it comes to intellect and background experience.
Plus, we're not talking about a heartbeat from the Presidency here. We're talking about a Senate seat. We're talking about someone who is supposed to know and understand the people of New York, and someone who wants to represent their best interests on the federal level. I don't think that her candidacy is as absurd as people are making it out to be. It's not as though she doesn't have the education and background to back herself up. I think that people are more upset about her "celebrity" status than anything else, which I can understand. I think that it would definitely be a struggle for her to prove herself in spite of her family name. A lot of people think that she doesn't have the grits to fight in Washington, so that's something that she'd have to prove as well.
On the other hand, Kennedy put herself out for scrutiny by tossing her hat into the ring. Knowing herself that she is a shy person, she should have worked to try to eliminate nervous tics and speech habits when talking informally to press. As a politician, speech and clear, concise communication skills are essential. However, I am incredibly upset that there seems to be a double standard in the media when it comes to criticizing women politicians and "filler" words. They go on and on about how "distracting" the "you knows" are--as if Obama's long, scratchy "uhhhhh"s aren't? Please!
I happen to think that "you know" isn't as distracting of a filler word as "uh" or "um." The latter aren't even words. If you sit and concentrate on "uh"s, while someone is talking, the person starts sounding like there's something mentally wrong with him or her, or that he or she is speaking some sort of strange morse code language (instead of dash-dot-dash, it's um-uhhhhh-um).
It's true, we've become too lax with our filler words. We let television and radio presenters get away with it, and now politicians. At least they're not writing it into their speeches.
It's clear nowadays that filler words are a part of our everyday vernacular, and that they do not hold a mirror to the speaker's intellect. Still, it's hard to tell the difference between the smarties and the dummies if everyone speaks the same way: "Like, you know, I may, um, sound like a, you know, valley girl, but, uh, I'm, like, really a Harvard scholar!"
I guess the best thing to do would be to give a piece of advice to Mme Kennedy and other politicians: