It can also be instructive to turn to European examples. As I constantly remind my students, our notion that the political leader of a great power is someone of mature years does not necessarily fit the historical pattern.
The youth factor is even more apparent if one turns to the French Revolution, which, as the successor to a closed social and political system, necessarily brought men of new social origins to power. Many of them were also young. Even the Old Régime, however, could claim that youth was on its side: Louis XVI was but 34 when the Bastille fell. Robespierre and Saint-Just were 35 and 26 years old, respectively, when executed on the 10th of Thermidor. Barère and Tallien, who overthrew them, were just 38 and 27. Napoleon Bonaparte was 30 years old when he seized power. Wellington and Napoleon both turned 46 in the year of Waterloo--the same age as Barack Obama today.