Her days as a lightning rod on the campaign trail firmly behind her, Michelle Obama has polished her image in a paradoxical way for a political wife: by steering clear of politics. She's a familiar presence on the national scene, and her poll numbers are robust, even among Republicans. "She has done this by framing herself as a wife, mother, daughter and sister, not trying to redefine the role of first lady, limiting interviews and staying militantly noncontroversial," Lynn Sweet writes for Politics Daily.
"She hasn't gone the Hillary Clinton or Eleanor Roosevelt route of becoming a shrill policy advocate," says a presidential historian. If she's in the news, it's because of her work for military families, her fashionable wardrobe, or her role as "first mom." What's more, Americans seem to appreciate her effect on the president: She "seems to be keeping him in his place; that's the image you get," he observes. "And people kind of like that in general."