Recently I was Googling for something else, and I ran across this plot summary in an eight-year-old discussion on the boards on the Straight Dope website. I went through the entire thread on that forum, and nobody ever posted a response that identified the story in question. (I mention this to save you the time of following the link and going to all that trouble yourself.)

Here's what a poster called "Elendil's Heir" said in January of 2010:

I also remember a mid-Eighties book of politically-themed sf short stories. In one of them, an American starship returns after a short but very successful almost-lightspeed voyage. The young captain is hailed as a hero and his many fans beg him to run for President. He isn't yet (biologically) 35 years old, as required by the Constitution, even though to everyone left back on Earth he's pushing 90 if you counted from his birthdate. IIRC the Supreme Court finally decides he can run - so he does, and wins.

That didn't ring any bells in my head, but it sounds like it could be an amusing read. So I'm asking for help in identifying a story I've never even seen with my own eyes! Does anyone think that plot premise sounds familiar?


1 Answer 1


Stanley Schmidt May The Best Man Win - short story in Analog March 1971. They want to ignore the technicality and nominate him regardless. But he points out that if time dilation is ignored, not only can he run, but his nine year old daughter can vote for him as she was born before they left Earth decades ago.

He is persuaded to go ahead anyway. His manager says "What we need in a President is not chronology and years - it's leadership. Do you honestly believe that you, with your thirty-four years of leading people through crisis after crisis and coming out on top [are] less fit to be President than those other guys with their fifty years of fund-raising dinners and smoke-filled rooms? You can't believe that - -Look, the law's going to have to get more complicated on this age business. Right? So why not take the chance to recognise that maybe the way to complicate it is to scrap the age criterion - - give them an incentive to find another yardstick that means more - after the election. Because you - - are the best presidential material the country has seen in twenty years".

  • Okay, I just read a copy of that story, and it definitely is the one that someone on Straight Dope was describing from memory, 8 years ago. (Even if he got it wrong about the Supreme Court getting involved.) Thank you for tracking it down for me!
    – Lorendiac
    Commented Feb 14, 2018 at 2:12
  • No prob. I took a while to find as I checked the 1980s first, but I definitely remembered it from Analog so I kept looking.
    – Mike Stone
    Commented Feb 14, 2018 at 8:11

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