When Napoleon was asked if he preferred his generals to be brilliant or courageous he replied he preferred them to be lucky.
And as Bill Clinton took to the stage to endorse Barack Obama's bid for a second term as US president it was his good fortune rather than his support most Democrats yearned for.
As his wife Hillary arrives in Northern Ireland today in what has been billed as her own 'farewell tour' as she prepares to step down from her post as US Secretary of State it remains to be seen whether she has inherited her husband's political luck.
Because those who seek to judge the Clinton's legacy often find themselves questioning if they were as good as people make out or simply benefited from favourable circumstances.
The Clinton's role in our peace process has been well documented.
Bill's late night phone calls during the Good Friday Agreement negotiations undoubtedly corralled and cajoled our political leaders over the finishing line.
Their open door policy gave Irish politicians unprecedented access to the White House and provided a global platform for political solutions to be achieved.
Since leaving office Clinton has remained a committed friend to this country and Hillary has taken up the political baton on our behalf.
However, doubts remain about the significance of her own contribution to progress here.
During her own failed presidential campaign in 2008 she claimed to have been 'instrumental' in bringing peace here as evidence of her foreign policy experience.
These suggestions were disputed by many of the key players at the time including former First Minister Lord Trimble and his aide Steven King who added caustically that she was as relevant as Cherie Blair.
Regardless of whether she exaggerated her own importance it is evident that her influence and interest has grown over the years.
As First Lady she established the Vital Voices organisation to empower women into political leadership.
She boasts more visits to these shores than her husband and as Obama's foreign minister she has made several key interventions.
Her address to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2009 urged support for the devolution of policing and justice powers and outlined the case of increased US investment in return. She pointed out that more than 20,000 jobs had been created by American firms since the IRA ceasefire of 1994 under an economic policy kick-started by her husband.
Her appointment of Declan Kelly as economic envoy to the North was also viewed as a significant marker in promoting Northern Ireland as a viable destination for enterprise.
Given the events of the past week, Hillary could be forgiven for believing little has changed since she and Bill became the first US president and First Lady to visit Northern Ireland 17 years ago.
However, the 65-year-old has never hidden away from confronting some of the uglier aspects to our society.
Leaked cables from Wikileaks revealed US officials were shown horrific real time-lapse footage of the murder of two soldiers at Massereene barracks.
The confidential despatches detailed how Clinton immediately ordered extensive briefings on security force efforts to prevent future terror attacks. She instructed consulate officials to compile files on PSNI, Garda and military strategies to combat dissident republicans and thwart loyalist retaliation.
And last month she reiterated US support for peace in Northern Ireland by branding the murder of prison officer David Black "a cowardly and outrageous act".
While it can be argued with some justification that the Clintons were in the right place at the right time to benefit from events this side of the Atlantic, it is fair to say they both used their power and positions to promote Northern Ireland to the top of the political agenda inside the Oval Office.
The mere presence of either Clinton on this island immediately gives weight and credibility to the region as viable area for doing business. And long before Obama came along with his message of hope and change, Hillary and Bill were inspiring Northern Ireland to embrace the same.
Their recognition of our problems and efforts to supply and provide a solution contributed to instilling a sense of purpose and belief in Northern Ireland.
They reminded us that while we still face grave challenges economically and socially - opportunities do exist and we have the capacity to capitalise on them.
Above all - the Clinton message to Northern Ireland was that peace and prosperity is achievable but only if you truly want it and are willing to make it happen.
Bill Clinton made his 'farewell' visit as President in 2000 although he has returned subsequently, most recently to deliver a lecture on economic recovery at the Magee campus of the University of Ulster.
Now it is Hillary's turn to say her goodbyes. But when your husband is known as 'the comeback kid' for his ability to recover from electoral adversity, it should not surprise us if we are lucky enough to welcome back a new President Clinton in four years' time.