None of these contenders could rival the visceral appeal of a storyline centered on husband-and-wife barrier breakers: he shatters the tradition of whites-only nominees, she breaks the rule of male-only nominees.

Yes, it’s possible that Michelle Obama would choose to follow a more conventional path to the presidency (as did Hillary) and run for a less prominent office in 2016 to set up a future White House campaign. There’s already been some conversation about winning back her husband’s former Senate seat in Illinois by challenging moderate Republican Mark Kirk when he goes for his second term five years from now. There’s also the chance that a disappointing second term performance by this president would make any Obama candidacy in 2016 implausible, just as the unpopularity of George W. Bush ruled out any immediate presidential drive by his brother Jeb.

But if Barack Obama prepares to leave the White House as a reasonably popular and respected figure, why would his wife wait for the glow to fade?

Whether she runs in 2016, or 2020, or 2024 (she’d only be 60 years old), Michelle Obama will likely play a role in future White House battles.