From The Weekly Standard:
n the movie L.A. Story, the character played by Chevy Chase goes to a hyper-fashionable restaurant named, appropriately enough, L’Idiot.
He is greeted by the maitre d’, played by Patrick Stewart, who asks, ‘Your usual table?”
“No,” Chase’s character responds, “I’d like a good one this time.”
“I’m sorry, that is impossible,” Stewart’s character replies.
“Part of the new cruelty?”
“I’m afraid so.”
Although L.A. Story was released in 1991, it has supplied us with an apt rubric for our own times; the New Cruelty is the Trumpian successor to the New Deal and Great Society.
I was reminded of it watching the viral video of Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, defend the policy of separating children from their mothers and fathers at the border. (Less than 24 hours later, Trump would reverse course and issue an executive order he said would stop the practice, although it’s unclear how that will work.)
Appearing on Fox News, Lewandowski mocked a story about a 10-yearold with Down syndrome being separated from her parents. “Wahh, wahh,” Lewandowski cracked, making “a dismissive trombone-like sound effect,” as the Washington Post described it.
The reaction to Lewandowski’s crassness was justifiably outraged. “There is no low to which this coward Corey Lewandowski won’t sink,” tweeted Megyn Kelly, “This man should not be afforded a national platform to spew his hate.”
And, indeed, Lewandowski seems especially vile in an era in which vileness increasingly appears to be a career path. But was his insensitive gibe off-message? Or was it simply a cruder version of the New Cruelty that has displaced whatever was left of “compassionate conservativism.”