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I read a story from F&SF or Amazing Stories in 1985 or so; the main character is a political advisor to a Kennedyesque charismatic president, recalling how the president deliberately caused nuclear war. In the post-apocalyptic world, the President and his wife visit isolated settlements via dirigible (I think) and foster a cult which treats them as godlike figures (rather like the Kims in North Korea). The main character has been imprisoned, but the story ends with the main character hoping that his final secret spreads — he, not the president, is the father of child the first lady is expecting.

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  • This kind of sounds like a backwards version of Michael Moorcock's The Warlord of the Air.
    – Spencer
    Mar 16, 2022 at 2:06
  • I did some more creative googling and have a line on the story now - but need to search a little more to confirm
    – Andrew
    Mar 16, 2022 at 14:37

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Found it. It's "In Excelsis" by Paul A. Carter, in the March 1984 F&SF (I finally realized I could Google "Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction" "dirigible" which pointed me in the right direction (it didn't tell me which issue, but it did tell me what page in the issue, which narrowed down the search)) - an issue I actually had on a back shelf. Having now reread the story, I was pretty close. The First Lady was also the VP, and the President knew that his advisor had been sleeping with her (it was the President's idea), and the advisor is in hiding, not in prison, but his goal is the record the truth of what happened:

The president is not God. His wife is not the Queen of Heaven. Those children will not be born as a new incarnation of God on a ruined earth.

The president is a man, like other men. He will die, as all men die.

He has used his wife for his own purposes , making her an instrument of his ambition , as other men have

And lastly, reader to come -- "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" -- I believe , though I cannot know or prove , that her children will be not his, but my own.

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