Michelle Obama can now speak her mind. Will she?

Some of those aides make a powerful case that even as Michelle Obama is likely to be spending time writing a memoir and giving speeches, she will be most effective if she sticks to the calibrated tone she has employed for her husband’s two terms. She has always admired Laura Bush’s restrained approach, they say. Mrs. Obama never longed for a particularly public life and does not relish the fray. Leaving the spotlight could be a relief, as it was for Mrs. Bush: “After nearly eight years of hypervigilance, of watching for the next danger or tragedy that might be coming, I could at last exhale; I could simply be,” she said of leaving the White House in her 2010 memoir.

Besides, the best way for Mrs. Obama to preserve her popularity and authority may be to hold back, to avoid jeopardizing what she has worked to build. Even when she is bathed in public admiration, she is the target of revolting attacks — a prominent Trump supporter recently insinuated she is a male ape — and speaking out more could provoke worse. As first lady, she used hints, invitations, art, sometimes even clothing to convey her viewpoint. If she mostly avoided controversial topics, her mere presence spoke volumes, and was there really any mistaking the fundamentals of what she believed?

But others who know her predict that with time, Mrs. Obama will find a new voice. Both Obamas, two of the few unifying figures in a fractured Democratic Party, will face enormous pressure to help oppose and rebuild. For years, she has mostly bottled up her critiques of Republicans, but they are scorching, say those who have heard the private version. Some Democrats dream of her running for president in 2020, and though Mrs. Obama and those close to her say the idea is out of the question, the general appetite to hear from her may not be as easy for her to dismiss.

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