Bill Clinton is the great St. Bernard of politics, bounding around the political landscape, rescuing and providing aid while simultaneously knocking over the table lamp.
At the moment, he is hosting the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, which this year is taking a serious look at America's economic problems. He is also in the thick of the 2012 campaign, raising money for President Barack Obama.
The trouble is no one is better at articulating the case for Obama's re-election - while at the same time occasionally undercutting Obama's chances.
Recently he has been on the wrong end of at least three different statements he has had to clarify - defending Bain Capital, testifying to Mitt Romney's "sterling" business career, suggesting the country was still in a recession, and suggesting he favored extending the Bush-era tax cuts.
Clinton is doing such good work for Mitt Romney that he now appears in the Republican nominee's press releases. Even Sarah Palin praised Clinton last night, in an effort to make President Obama look way out of the mainstream.
What is up with Bill Clinton? Everyone has a theory, which is part of the problem with Bill Clinton.
He compels theories from people about his hidden machinations, even when there aren't any.
So, let's consider a series of theories based on a round of conversations with Clinton watchers, former staffers, and allies:
A storyteller in a Twitter world. Bill Clinton is at his best when he is telling a tale or reasoning something out with you.
"I could give a pretty good one," he once said to an Ames, Iowa, audience about loping political speeches, "'cause I came out of a tradition of storytellers where we listened and learned how to tell stories."
That doesn't really fit in the 140 character world of Twitter. The news cycle has sped up even faster since he was president. So has the phony outrage and games of gotcha.
His talent for framing what the election is about is less valued and gets less play than the moments when he is off message.
He's actually not off message. If you look at Clinton's so-called gaffes, they're not off message in any reasonable sense.
When he said that Romney had a "sterling" business career, it was right up against a sentence that said he would not be a good president. When he said the Bush-era tax cuts should be "extended," he was talking about a temporary extension to work out a deal with Republicans.
Twice in the interview he said he did not support a permanent extension. The comment about the recession was simply an act of misspeaking.
He has forgotten how to talk like a politician (because he doesn't have to). Bill Clinton speaks in paragraphs. He spends a lot of his time in long conversations with interesting people talking about global issues.
That can deaden your political communications skills that - when sharp - allow you say nothing interesting about even the smallest issues. In order to navigate a world in which your every word is spliced, you must say nothing that can be taken out of context, which is to say, very little at all.
The former leader of the free world isn't going to simply read talking points cooked up by the Obama campaign in Chicago, anyway. One strong dissenting voice among my interviews argued that while Clinton did have trouble adapting to the new world during the 2008 campaign, he's long since adapted.
He thinks he is the smartest one in the room. Clinton thinks that the Bain attacks on Romney are inefficient and not smart. They also risk hurting major Democratic Party donors.