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Caroline Kennedy's Media Push (With Pauses)

Caroline Kennedy is hoping to, you know, be appointed United States senator from, um, New York, so she can take over, you know, Hillary Clinton's seat when Clinton becomes secretary of state.

If only things were – you know – going a bit more smoothly: As numerous commentators have noted, Kennedy used the phrase "you know" about 140 times in a weekend interview with the New York Times.

To be fair, overuse of "you know" is a fairly typical verbal tic. But it's not one that politicians, whose livelihood depends in large part on their verbal dexterity, generally fall back on.

Kennedy is not a seasoned politico, of course, as both her words and her not-always-smooth campaign to convince New York governor David Patterson to name her to Clinton's seat have demonstrated. A supporter might point to the aspiring senator's speaking style as evidence that she represents someone who isn't consumed by the usual Washington rules – someone who, despite her pedigree, represents that elusive quantity known as change. A detractor, meanwhile, might look to it as just the latest piece of evidence that Kennedy is simply not ready for prime time.

There appear to be plenty of folks on both sides of the fence: A nationwide CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll out today finds that 52 percent of Americans believe Kennedy is qualified to be senator, while 42 percent believe she is not.

The survey exposes something of a gender gap: Fifty-seven percent of women say Kennedy has what it takes for the job, but just 47 percent of men feel the same.

And speaking of gender, check out this passage from the Times interview, which nicely illustrates Kennedy's conversational style (NC and DH are reporters):

NC: Could you, for the sake of storytelling, could you tell us a little bit about that moment, like, where you were, what you said to him about your decision, how that played out?

CK: Have you guys ever thought about writing for, like, a woman's magazine or something? (Laughter)

DH: What do you have against women's magazines?

CK: Nothing at all, but I thought you were the crack political team here. As I said, it was kind of over a period of time, you know, obviously we talked about politics, we talked about what's going on, we've been watching the team that the president-elect is putting together — Hillary Clinton is going to be a spectacular part of that team, you know, then there was a vacancy here, you know, just like everybody else, you know: who's going to fill it, isn't that interesting, there's a lot of great candidates, you know, obviously I have become much more politically involved than I have in the past, so you know, I figure, why not try, I really think I have something to offer.

The Times interview was one of a number of interviews that Kennedy, who has been criticized for not making her views more widely known, did this weekend. She told the New York Post that Barack Obama was "encouraging" when she spoke to him about Clinton's seat, though he has not been involved in her efforts to be appointed. She shared "misty memories of Camelot" with the New York Daily News, and told NY1 that if her "last name weren't Kennedy, maybe I would have run for office a long time ago."

Kennedy will once again host the Kennedy Center honors this year, which will air tomorrow on CBS. If Patterson selects her for the Senate seat, she will serve two years and then run in a special election in 2010.

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