So who might be closer to a real-life Don Quixote? I think a better example might be George W. Bush.
I can’t claim to know his personal intentions, but my impression of him through his public persona is that he has (or at least had) a deluded view of the world. Given his upbringing, lifestyle, success, and the people he surrounded himself with during his presidency, this hardly seems surprising. And I think it’s likely that he really thought his actions as president were the morally right things to do, just as Don Quixote constructs moral justifications for everything from freeing the galley slaves to slaughtering the hotel wineskins. And Don Quixote too is quick to anger, unrepentant of his mistakes, certain of his understanding of right and wrong, and not convinced by reason.
But Don Quixote was one man, and his actions involved a very limited number of people. Unfortunately, I think Bush surrounded himself with Ahabs and trusted the information they gave him, maybe on the assumption that they also were knights of chivalry. By the time it became obvious that Bush’s giants were actually windmills (read: among other examples, that Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction), he’d already committed too much to the effort. Too much industry, money, policy, and rhetoric--and too many lives--to make any deathbed reversal meaningful.
(I recently saw [the first half of] Longford and read Lord Longford's Wikipedia entry, and he seems like another Don Quixote candidate. I haven't done enough research to make a good case, but what I've seen so far is quite interesting.)
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