In his essay on Ted Cruz’s presidential prospects — titled “Can You ‘Imagine’ Ted Cruz as President?” — the New Yorker’s John Cassidy initially characterized the Texas senator this way:
To many Americans, he is the uppity loudmouth who, in the fall of 2013, less than a year into his first term as a senator, helped bring the federal government to a halt.
After a small bit of tinkering, that sentence is shorter:
To many Americans, he is the loudmouth who, in the fall of 2013, less than a year into his first term as a senator, helped bring the federal government to a halt.
An explanation from Cassidy for the subtraction now lies at the foot of the story:
Update: In describing Senator Cruz’s aggressive actions during his first year in the Senate, I originally used the word “uppity,” which means, according to Webster’s, “acting as if you are more important than you really are, do not have to do what you are told to do, etc.” However, the word also has some disturbing historical connotations that I overlooked, and in applying it to a Latino politician, I goofed. If I gave any offense, however inadvertently, I am sorry.
Cassidy’s explanation errs on the vague side. “Uppity” has a tendency to be uttered in close proximity to the “N” word, which might go a ways toward accounting for its “disturbing historical connotations.”
Good on Cassidy for admitting that he “goofed.” Bad on Cassidy for following this admission with a classic refrain in the apologia oeuvre: “If I gave any offense, however inadvertently, I am sorry.” As an experienced commentator — a staff writer at New Yorker since 1995 — Cassidy should know what he’s up against here — the great American pastime of examining, parsing and dismembering the meae culpae of media people. Get ready for the avalanche of outrage over this sorry-if-anyone-took-offense formulation.