Michelle Obama has had a busy eight years and now, as the First Lady looks to the future, speculation is abound as to what’s next.
While FLOTUS hasn’t made any definite decisions, she has dropped plenty of clues. Regardless of where she ends up, Mrs. Obama has made it clear that she will remain committed to healthy living. But during a recent interview she hinted that she could change her focus from children to adult women.
“We focused on kids for a reason,” she said. “It’s hard to change adults, and it’s hard to change it from a political position or a perceived political position. Kids, everybody can get behind. It’s a bipartisan thing.”
Mrs. Obama has said she wants to shift focus to adults, particularly mothers because she believes “we’ve got to learn how to take care of ourselves” first.
Just as the First Lady’s role is undefined, with each woman molding it to her personality, interests and comfort level, there is no script for what comes after the First Lady finishes the job.
The widowed Jacqueline Kennedy remarried and became a New York book editor. Laura Bush continues her advocacy for literacy, women in Afghanistan and preservation issues. Hillary Clinton launched her own political career with her bid for the U.S. Senate, even before her family left the White House.
As the first Black woman in the role of First Lady, it seems natural that she would shed light on her closely guarded personal life. Book publishers would offer to pay millions for the rights to Mrs. Obama’s insider account. Clinton got an $8 million advance for her 2003 memoir, Living History.
Of course, she could follow in the footsteps of Clinton and go on the speaking circuit. Mrs. Obama put her oratory on display with a well-received speech on opening night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. She followed up with a series of campaign speeches criticizing Republican Donald Trump, now the president-elect, as unsuitable for the nation’s highest office. Her friend, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, said the First Lady will be “one of the most in-demand speakers” as a result of her convention performance.
Mrs. Obama has also demonstrated a knack for talk-show banter, and an ease in front of the TV cameras. She co-hosted “The View” before the 2008 election and recently co-hosted Ellen DeGeneres’ gabfest.
“It will be fun to see what she actually does,” said Kimberly Archer, head of the Washington office of Russell Reynolds Associates, an executive search and assessment firm. “Wherever she does decide to focus, I would say, `Lucky them.”‘
Both the President and First Lady repeatedly have said she will not run for president — despite pressure from Democrats wowed by her campaign speeches challenging Trump.
Obama has said she doesn’t have “the patience or the inclination” to be a candidate and is “too sensible to want to be in politics.”
A Harvard law school graduate, Mrs. Obama practiced at a Chicago firm but abandoned a legal career after the deaths of her father and a close friend. She entered public service, working for the city of Chicago and running an AmeriCorps service program before she joined the University of Chicago Medical Center as a vice president for community and external affairs. It was the last paid position she held before become First Lady.
Whatever she does decide to do, President Barack Obama says he knows what she’s doing first – “Going on a really nice vacation because she deserves it.”