On his 63rd birthday, former President Bill Clinton is not without reason to celebrate.
After all, it was Clinton who earlier this month was lauded after helping to negotiate the release of U.S. journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling, who had been imprisoned in North Korea for illegally entering the country from China.
But while Lee and Ling's safe return to the U.S. is certainly something to be proud of, political scientists say that Clinton's real reason to party is his ability to maintain a strong role in American politics – a feat that would make any former president – one who many once wondered how he'd fill his newfound free-time – proud.
"The fact that on his 63rd birthday the man shows no signs of slowing down whatsoever and in fact seems to be continuing to invent new ways to stay occupied is really something else," said Russell Riley, a presidential scholar at the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs.
"There was no question that last year at the point at which it was clear Hillary Rodham Clinton was going to be moving into a position in the administration that some people thought it would mean Bill would have to roll back is own agenda," said Riley. "But that's not what we've seen happen at all."
And party he did. Last week, Clinton, who was in Las Vegas for the National Clean Energy Summit, reportedly took advantage of his time in Sin City and threw himself a lavish birthday dinner at the MGM Grand hotel.
"With former President Clinton, anything is possible," said Julian Zelizer, a political historian and professor at Princeton University. "That's one thing that Americans kind of expect of him – all sorts of behavior. "
"Clinton can be the same guy who can resolve a situation in North Korea and then get involved in all sorts of escapades in his personal life, that's the story of his life," said Zelizer, "and I think he's happy with that status."
According to Zelizer, Clinton's role has morphed since the 2008 Presidential election, during which the former president railed against President Barack Obama's policies on behalf of his wife, who eventually lost the Democratic primary.
"It's interesting, because Clinton was once the person that Obama defined himself against," said Zelizer. "Now that's changed and Clinton has, in many ways, influenced this White House, from the selection of Obama's inner circle to most recently his role as a liaison to North Korea."
With Clinton's trip to North Korea only the second if its kind since former President Jimmy Carter traveled there in the early '90s, Clinton's role is beginning to be more defined as one of the Democratic party elders, said Zelizer.
"The Democrats were out of power for so long [before Obama] that they don't have many senior people to look to," he said. "In part, Clinton is now taking on that role."
But to be sure, Clinton's legacy is not unblemished, said Zelizer.
That mainly stems from his affair with then-White House intern Monica Lewinksy and the impeachment trial that followed in December 1998.
His outspoken – some would say over-the-top – performance during the 2008 presidential campaign was not easily forgotten either, and the former president was oft criticized for taking the limelight away from his presidential-hopeful wife.
Zelizer credits what he calls Clinton's "unbelievable resilience," with his ability to move forward despite his travails.