The sight of Bill Clinton propping up Barack Obama in his hour of need ,as he did at their joint White House conference, is a striking one.
Clinton is clearly gambling that Obama's latest move to do a deal with Republicans will pay of in the long run, as his decision to work with Republicans paid off with his second term.
But what ultimately delivered for Clinton was the over-reaching of his opponents, specifically Newt Gingrich who decided he could shut down the government and get away with it.
Clinton won a famous victory and secured his place in history as a result.
What Obama is doing now, however, is very different.
He appears unable or afraid to take on Republicans at a key moment like Clinton did.
He had the public on his side on the tax cuts extension with only 26 per cent supporting the Republican version but chose to concede.
His capitulation also gives credence to the idea that Obama has no intention of standing behind any policy that Republicans can filibuster.
Thus, Dream Act, Don't Ask Don't tell, tax cuts for wealthy all either get stymied or put on the long finger.
The difference between Clinton and Obama is not that both choose to work with Republicans but that Clinton picked his moment to fight with them and defeat them.
Obama has given no indication he has the same steel in his resolve.