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Is Michelle Obama preparing to run for office?
She and Hillary Clinton would make an extraordinary ticket
First Lady Michelle Obama is on the cover of Vogue's April 2013 issue.
First Lady Michelle Obama is on the cover of Vogue's April 2013 issue. muckrack.com
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irst Lady Michelle Obama, fresh off her cameo at the Oscars, is now making her second appearance on the cover of Vogue. The issue comes out on March 26, but the iconic fashion magazine unveiled the cover on Thursday. Shot by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz, Mrs. Obama wears a blue dress by one of her favorite designers, Reed Krakoff. And perhaps predictably, the recent burst of glitzy publicity has touched off speculation that the first lady is raising her profile to lay the groundwork for her own run for political office. She shrugs it off, joking that she's really gunning for Jay Leno's gig on The Tonight Show, but the rumors only seem to get stronger.

It is, of course, hardly surprising to see Michelle Obama on the cover of Vogue. She made her first appearance in the fashion bible four years ago, right after President Obama took office. And the magazine's editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, was one of the president's most prominent fundraisers when he ran for re-election. While writer Jonathan Van Meter interviewed both Michelle Obama and her husband, "it's Mrs. Obama who's the focus here," says Peter Grier at The Christian Science Monitor. The cover reads, "How the first lady and the president are inspiring America." It makes you wonder: "Is she running for something? Hillary-Michelle (or Michelle-Hillary?) 2016!"

OK, it hasn't escaped our attention that "Hillary-Michelle" has been a hot search term this week. There's no real reason why that's so, in the sense that there isn't a speck of news on this front. The whole notion of Hillary Rodham Clinton teaming up with Mrs. Obama in a journalists' dream team seems driven by speculation, idle and otherwise. But what struck us about the Vogue piece was the degree to which it promoted the first lady and examined the nature of first couplehood...

The piece almost seems to be pushing Mrs. Obama for something. What it does is place her at the emotional heart of the Obama presidency — in a way that even Jacqueline Kennedy, despite the huge amount of coverage she got, never was. [Christian Science Monitor]

Yes, a Clinton-Obama ticket is a fanciful notion. Hillary hasn't even said whether she'll run again. Still, says Paul Bedard at the Washington Examiner, you have to admit, Clinton-Obama would be "the ultimate grrl power ticket." As former Clinton spokeswoman Karen Finney puts it: "All due respect for President Obama and Vice President Biden, but that would truly be a dream team for America. Both women are proven effective leaders who've raise children, so dealing with Congress would be a snap!" Bedard continues:

It's not just talk. Bumper stickers reading "2016-Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama," and "Hillary-Michelle 2016 First First Lady Ticket For President" are popping up. Cafe Press said sales of the Hillary-Michelle bumper sticker saw a 60 percent increase from December to March, with the largest uptick in March...

Recently, there has been some talk that Obama would be a good Illinois Senate candidate after the White House, much like Clinton, who ran for and won a Senate seat in New York. But teaming her with Clinton would create a political and fundraising force that would be impossible to beat on the Democratic side. [Washington Examiner]

Well, while Mrs. Obama scores high in the polls and championed voter-friendly initiatives, says JohnThomas Didymus at Digital Journal, "being the first lady has never been recognized [as a] qualification for the White House." (Remember, Hillary was a senator in between being first lady and making a White House bid.) That might explain why not everyone is taking the rumors too seriously. "Hillary and Michelle are both very popular and accomplished," says pollster John Zogby, "but this smacks of too much celebrity and is a tad too dynastic for American voters. An interesting reality show, yes. A ticket, no."

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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