The New Movie Version Confirms It: Hillary Clinton Is Lady Macbeth
The new film adaptation of Macbeth, my favorite Shakespeare play, is wonderful. It’s also relevant in 2022. Directed by Joel Coen, the film uses elements of film noir and German expressionism to tell the story of the ambitious 11th century Scottish warrior who killed his own king to ascend to the throne. Macbeth’s mind unravels as he tries to control the fallout from his evil act. At the end (spoiler alert!) he is beheaded and replaced on the throne.
Macbeth could also be the story of an ancestor of Hillary Clinton. Clinton has often been compared to Lady Macbeth, the power-hungry wife of Macbeth. The new film makes that analogy even more pronounced.
Macbeth the man is magnificently played in the new film by Denzel Washington. A proud general, Macbeth is only outdone in his ambition by his wife, Lady Macbeth (Frances McDormand). After the Scottish King Duncan hears the news that his best generals, Macbeth and Banquo, have defeated two invading armies, Macbeth is named the thane of Cawdor. Yet it’s not good enough.
Macbeth has heard a witch’s prophecy that he himself will be king one day. Macbeth writes to Lady Macbeth, telling her all that has happened. The couple then invites the king to visit them at Inverness, their castle. The Macbeths then plot to murder the king so that Macbeth himself can attain the throne.
Goaded on by Lady Macbeth
Macbeth has doubts about the plot, and when he expresses them he is taunted, belittled and ridiculed by his power-hungry wife. Lady Macbeth prods her husband, telling him he’s not a man unless he murders the king: “When you durst do it, then you were a man; And to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man.”
When, after the deed is done, Macbeth begins to imagine he is seeing ghosts, Lady Macbeth attacks: “You do unbend your noble strength, to think so brainsickly of things.” Then she calls him a coward: “My hands are of your color, but I shame to wear a heart so white.”
While I was never a fan of either one of them, I always liked Bill Clinton more than Hillary. It’s true that the Clintons are two of the most ambitious politicians in American history. Harold Bloom’s description of the Macbeth marriage in his book Macbeth: A Dagger of the Mind somewhat applies to the Clintons: “Their passion for each other is absolute in every way, as much metaphysical as erotic. Their lust for power fuses with mutual desire and enhances the turbulence of their ecstasy.”
The Difference Between Them
Still, I always detected a difference between Hillary and Bill. Bill Clinton always seemed steeped in American political history and the earthly gears of government policy. Clinton admired FDR and John F. Kennedy and wanted to carry their policies forward. Easily diverted by Big Macs and Monica Lewinsky, Clinton also acted as if he knew that politics is important but that there is more to life than just the White House. He didn’t seem resentful or angry.
With Hillary, on the other hand, you can almost see the smoke of raw personal ambition rising off of her. It’s hard to imagine her taking an interest in anything other than her own ascent to power. While she mouths clichés about being “stronger together” and how conservatives are a “threat to democracy,” Hillary would bulldoze an assisted living facility to become president. When comparing the Clintons to the Macbeths, critic Stephen Schneider noted that Hillary much more than Bill is in it for power:
While former President Bill Clinton fended off impeachment (and no political rivals that I know of were murdered along the way), it isn’t a stretch to see parallels between the ambition and scandals that attend the Macbeths’ rise to power, and those that critics of the Clintons like to remind us all about. Even left-wing writers including author and commentator Doug Henwood and former Wall Street Journal columnist Thomas Frank, at times, suggest that ambition rather than a Democratic agenda drives Hillary Clinton’s desire to be the first female president. Add to Clinton’s ambition her insistence on preserving her privacy, and her initial unwillingness to cooperate with investigations into her work as secretary of state, and we’re left with the image of a secretive, conspiring, usurper similar to the one that brought Scotland to its knees 400 years earlier.
Hillary Clinton and Russiagate
There is no greater example of Hillary’s unwavering ambition than her role in the Russiagate hoax. The Clinton campaign paid a law firm, a Russian, an opposition researcher firm and a spy to destroy Donald Trump, who became the president while Hillary helplessly looked on. Another less crazed politician — one thinks of the graceful losers Fritz Mondale and Mitt Romney — would have accepted defeat and enjoyed a return to private life. Not Hillary. Writing for Forbes, Paul Roderick Gregory lays out how Hillary poisoned Trump, the new king:
According to an insider account, the Clinton team put together the Russia Gate narrative within 24 hours of her defeat. The Clinton account explained that Russian hacking and election meddling caused her unexpected loss. Her opponent, Donald Trump, was a puppet of Putin. Trump, they said, “encourages espionage against our people.” The scurrilous Trump dossier, prepared by a London opposition research firm, Orbis, and paid for by unidentified Democrat donors, formed a key part of the Clinton narrative: Trump’s sexual and business escapades in Russia had made him a hostage of the Kremlin, ready to do its bidding. That was Hillary’s way to say that Trump is really not President of the United States — a siren call adopted by the Democratic party and media.
Unlike Lady Macbeth, who comes to a bad end in the play, Hillary refuses to go away. She’s giving a master class, doing interviews on TV, writing books. Her lust for personal power is evident even through her strained, fake smile. As Shakespeare put it, a “false face must hide what the false heart doth know.”
Mark Judge is a writer and filmmaker in Washington, D.C.