Originally Published on the Sultan Knish blog
Lady Macbeth may have been one of literature's most famous villains, but at least she had the guilty conscience to eventually try and wash the blood off her hands. Even if by then it was much too late.
It is doubtful that Hillary Rodham Clinton will start hallucinating bloody spots on her palms during the book tour for her upcoming 14-million-dollar book or compulsively washing her hands during the 2016 campaign.
If she does make it into the White House, it is even more doubtful that she will wander it at night in a nightgown crying out for the blood that can never be washed away.
Lady Macbeth may have cried out, "Here's the smell of the blood still; all the perfumes of Araby will not sweeten this little hand." But the black perfumes of today's Araby are more than enough to sweeten a multitude of appeasements and cover the blood that flows out from them.
Real life villains are closer to Richard III than Lady Macbeth, offering to trade their stolen kingdom for a horse to the very end, rather than seeking some intangible repentance in a fit of remorse. They are more likely to ask what difference it makes; the solipsistic query of the sociopath to whom the feelings of others are abstract things.
The Benghazi hearings featured more hypocritical and trite eulogies than anything Richard III could have imagined. Congressman Elijah Cummings told witnesses that "death is a part of a life." A fact that they were surely unaware of. His colleague, Eleanor Holmes Norton asked, "What's the big deal here?"
"We had Benghazi I with Susan Rice, now we’re having Benghazi II with Hillary Clinton. Enough Benghazi,” Norton declared. It's not quite "Out, damned spot!" or "What, will these hands ne'er be clean?" and more "What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?"
The latter is a timeless villain's truth, whether in a fictional 11th century Scottish castle or in the all too real 21st century Capitol Hill.
For Lady Macbeth, power was not a sufficient defense against conscience. A thousand years later, in Foggy Bottom, Capitol Hill and at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; there is no conscience, only power. The arrogance of an Obama, a Clinton or a Norton comes from their confidence that none can call their power to account.
Norton and Clinton have more of a point than critics give them credit for. Benghazi isn't a big deal. Not compared to the rivers of blood they shed in Afghanistan. In Benghazi, four Americans were abandoned. In Afghanistan, it was over 1500 soldiers killed and nearly 15,000 wounded many of them denied air support and the ability to fight back under rules of engagement that likely also played a part in the betrayal at Benghazi.
Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, a Shakespearean villain, if there ever was one, who helpfully wrote his own soliloquies, once said that while a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic. The four deaths in Benghazi are also a tragedy. Though we must of course, as Congressman Cummings told us, put them into the context of death being a part of life. Afghanistan however is just a statistic.
The day after Benghazi, the parents of Navy SEALS from Seal Team Six, along with military experts and former military officials, appeared at the National Press Club to demand a congressional investigation. The media responded with a collective shrugs and resumed providing non-stop coverage of the Jodi Arias case. Some Lady Macbeths go to prison. Others are meant to go to the White House.
"Why was there no pre-assault fire?" Karen Vaughn, the mother of Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn, asked. "We were told as families that pre-assault fire damages our efforts to win the hearts and minds of our enemy. So in other words, the hearts and minds of our enemy are more valuable to this government than my son's blood."
"Why didn't they take them out with a drone," Charles Strange, the father of Michael Strange asked. "The Admiral told me, to win the hearts and minds. I says, to win the hearts and minds? How about my heart? How about my mind?" But not all hearts and minds are created equal. And not all blood is valued the same.
If Lady Macbeth had wandered through her Foggy Bottom castle or the Westchester mansion, complete with wine cellar, artist's studio and outdoor fireplace, mourning for a Muslim terrorist killed in a drone strike or a Muslim protester during the September 11 embassy attacks, that would have been a socially acceptable act of regret for a lost mind and heart that could have yet been turned to a moderate appreciation of a country where you can hate it, bomb it and still get an academic posting at Columbia University.
But why bother mourning for one of the expendable human drones who are expected to give their lives to remind Muslims of our respect for their culture and religion?
When a Muslim is killed by a drone, the media gathers its outrage, but when one of our soldiers or diplomats dies in the hopes of softening a Muslim's heart, then the men and women who sent him to die with his hands tied and a target painted on his back cannot see the red spots on their soft palms.
Muslim hearts and minds are the obsession of the policymakers of the dying West, but who cares about the hearts and minds of the men and women who ride Chinooks into danger zones, run marathons in cities where aspiring Chechen boxers feel marginalized and work in skyscrapers that Muslim students fly past on the way from Boston, except on Election Day?
"Under the current Rules of Engagement, if the enemy fires on you then runs behind a rock," Karen Vaughn told a press that was busy pressing its fingers into its ears as deep as they could go, "when he pops his head out from behind the rock, you're not allowed to engage him unless you can verify that he has not laid his gun down... in other words you must be fired on twice."
Today it's twice. Tomorrow it may be three times. And then four. The angrier they get, the more free shots we have to give them to improve their self-esteem and soothe the throbbing emotions in their hearts and minds.
The press release for Hillary Clinton's 14-million-dollar book declares that she "has redefined the meaning of 'trailblazer' in every phase of her career on the world stage." Considering the ambassador she left choking to death on the smoke from a fire set by the militias she helped empower, that might not be the best choice of words. The unnamed book will offer "dramatic moments", "vivid personal anecdotes" and "memories of her collaboration with President Obama and his National Security team."
Again, not the best choice of words. But all too apt.
"Your face, my thane, is as a book where men may read strange matters," Lady Macbeth advised her lord. But it isn't likely that readers who plonk down their thirty bucks will read any strange matters in this sixth or seventh Clinton book. Those who have already endured "Living History" with her and "It Takes a Village", not to mention "Dear Socks: Kids' Letters to the First Pets" are unlikely to learn anything new from Hillary Clinton's version of Decision Points.
The books after all take the next part of Lady Macbeth's murderous advice. "To beguile the time, Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye... But be the serpent under't." The time now is that of the successful career woman whose marriage may be a sham and whose career is littered with more bodies than Lady Macbeth could have aspired to in her most deranged fantasies, but who never lets that get her down or stop her from leaning in to offer some empowering advice for that big meeting.
The serpent is still underneath. And sometimes it comes to the surface, asking what difference it makes it four people died here or fifteen hundred people died there. It's been Benghazi I and Benghazi II and eventually Benghazi III and it's time to MoveOn.org to discussing some offensive thing about the reproductive process that a Republican in Iowa or Idaho said.
There will be no book titled, "Dear Hillary, I'm In a Burning Diplomatic Mission with no Security and Can't Breathe: Dying Ambassador's Letters to Former First Ladies" and no, "It Takes a State Department to Spend Money on Art in Embassies Instead of on Embassy Security" book either. Those books wouldn't look like the time, they actually would be the time. They would be the bloody handprints on the wall and that would distract us from the Jodi Arias 2016 campaign.
The families of Navy SEALS demanding answers will not receive a fraction of the coverage that Cindy Sheehan did for burping in Bush's direction. American hearts and minds only matter when they are being influenced to stop fighting back against all the hate in Muslim hearts and minds. Soldiers will go on fighting and dying with their hands tied behind their backs. Embassies will go on being attacked. And nothing will be done about it because fighting back is insensitive and hurts our chances of winning Muslim hearts and minds.
Lady Macbeth only wanted power, but she lacked an ideology that would allow her to believe that she was doing the right thing. There was no Wellesley College senior thesis about Saul Alinsky on her shelf and she was left unequipped to believe that the ends justified the means and that rivers of blood could be spilled in a good cause.
"If the ideals Alinsky espouses were actualized, the result would be social revolution," Hillary Clinton wrote in her conclusion.
The social revolution of her 1969 thesis is once again here, and like most revolutions, it's a bloody mess. Once again social values are under attack by radicals while soldiers die overseas without being allowed to fight back. And the radicals care for nothing for the blood that they spill for their radical revolution. Not the blood of a single man or of a thousand men.
"What is a traitor?" Lady Macduff's son asks his mother, before being murdered by Macbeth's assassins. "Why, one that swears and lies," his mother replies. "Who must hang them?" her son asks. "Why, the honest men," she answers. "Then the liars and swearers are fools," he says, "for there are liars and swearers enow to beat the honest men and hang up them."
The liars and swearers have hung up the honest men from Benghazi to Kabul to Capitol Hill. And the traitors walk through the night with blood on their hands and do not even see.