“Everyone is just very, very excited — and relieved,” Constance White, editor-in-cheif of Essence magazinesaid about the prospect of having four more years of Michelle Obama as America’s first lady. There was elation in the offices of the black women’s style bible and among its readers online after President Obama secured the White House for a second term. This solidified the hope that Mrs. Obama would continue to positively represent black women, while inspiring all women.

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Yet, in her self-described role as “Mom-in-Chief,”first lady Michelle Obama has spawned as much rapturous admiration as scathing criticism. After the success of her husband’s 2008 presidential campaign, the former executive chose to focus on quality of life issues like nutrition, which led detractors to decry her attempt at improving American’s eating habits as invasive.

Despite such barbs, Mrs. Obama has seen her popularity rating soar beyond the president’s. A style leader, role model, and powerful Democratic fundraiser, her social potency is indisputable. Yet, until now, she has refrained from interacting too directly in politics, expressing herself instead through subtle means.

Will Mrs. Obama cultivate a more direct leadership style during her second four years in the White House? What’s next for the first lady?

“I doubt she would do anything that shocked the public,” Jodi Kantor, author of The Obamas, told theGrio. “We are talking about a first lady that has played it very safe and seems to have very little interest in pushing any kind of envelope. Merely being Michelle Obama was pushing the envelope. Being the first black first lady, the first descendent of slaves to be an occupant of the White House — that’s a radical shift for the nation unto itself.”

Yet, Kantor, who has followed the Obamas since the president first hit the national campaign trail, believes there is an opportunity for Mrs. Obama to take her projects into deeper territory. “The first thing I would watch is the direction she takes her Let’s Move and Joining Forces initiatives. The thing about those initiatives is that they can each be done in a more muted, sedate, vanilla, non-controversial way or they can be done in a more aggressive way.”

The New York Times reporter believes that Joining Forces may provide the first lady with an opportunity to spotlight the issue of mental illness among veterans.

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