My older brother was outrageously tough when we were growing up. He never looked for a fight, but he never walked away from one either. And he never lost.

Accordingly, I did not worry when the school toughs were trolling the halls for someone to slap around. The risk of running afoul of “mon grand frere” kept them at bay. Of course, his protection would have been unnecessary if I just avoided throwing around French class phrases like Urkel on his way to chess club, but you get my point: Having a big brother can be good.

And what’s true in junior high is true in politics, too. Nothing helps an elected leader more than someone else who has been there, done that and is not afraid to lend a little muscle of experience. That’s why Bill Clinton is hanging around the White House these days.


This week it was for a meeting with the bully boys of Wall Street. As President Obama and Vice President Biden sat down to talk job creation with the business community, there was former President Clinton lurking in the corner, ready to pat shoulders or twist arms, and bring a little of that “Uh oh, the guy who knows what’s what is here” quality.

As my colleague, CNN correspondent Dan Lothian noted, the former prez is also working the campaign trail for congressional candidates more than expected, a move that helps the sitting president if they win, and helps just as much if they lose by keeping President Obama clear of the collapse.

And on it goes. From demanding more help for Haiti to rescuing those two journalists from North Korea, the former president has stepped up time and again to crack his knuckles over White House efforts.

President Clinton plays all this casually, as if he’s just pitching in to help a neighbor put up a fence. The White House Press Office plays it all down. Their line goes something like, “Sure, he’s a valuable asset and we appreciate all he does, but you know we could do all this without him. Really. Seriously.”

But you know, it just seems like they protest too much. When it comes to the White House, Big Brother is not just watching these days, he’s hanging around the water fountain, and heading off trouble on an increasingly regular basis.

– CNN’s Tom Foreman is a regular on “AC360 ”/ and “Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull.”

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