I have seen so often presidents take credit for major legislations. But other than cases like budget bills which originate from the president, presidents just happen to be there and don't have a good justification or support to veto when a bill is passed. Shouldn't the legislature take most of the credit, especially when the president's party doesn't even control the congress?

Examples civil rights, national park etc

  • Do you have examples of a president claiming credit for specific legislation which they didn't originate? I'll agree they often claim credit for trends, but I don't recall examples of them claiming specifics.
    – Bobson
    Apr 12, 2016 at 17:21
  • Most legislations on campaign finance, privacy and government accountability did not originate from the white house. Apr 12, 2016 at 20:17
  • But did the White House claim credit for those?
    – Bobson
    Apr 13, 2016 at 15:45

3 Answers 3


That is politicians for you. Note that much of the civil rights legislation was passed by the Republican Party over the objections of the Democrats. However, the Democrats insist on claiming credit for it.

As an example, "affirmative action" was actually created by President Nixon who first applied it to the building trades and then to racial quotas.

During the 2012 election cycle, in correcting a statement on the Democratic National Committee website that claimed the party has led the fight for civil rights for 200 years, the Washington Post noted:

Certainly President Lyndon Johnson, a Texas Democrat, played an essential role, but it is worth remembering that 80 percent of the "no" votes in the Senate came from Democrats, including the late Robert Byrd (W.Va.) and Albert Gore (Tenn.), father of the future vice president. Republican votes, in fact, were essential in winning final passage of the bill.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/041913_LA_Times_US_history_civil_rights_movement.html#ixzz46npFI3bU

Since the president is the one who signs a bill into law, he takes the opportunity to have the "photo op" and claim credit for it. If it fails or is regarded as bad by the people, then he will blame the other party and the congress.

"Heads I win, Tails you lose"

  • 1
    @Era During the election campaigns of the past 40 years the Democrats have lied about their behavior from before the civil war up to the 70's or 80's. They range from having pretended to have supported Martin Luthor King Jr., pretending to take credit for the civil rights legislation that the Republicans passed while Johnson was President, hiding what Woodrow Wilson did, etc. Apr 22, 2016 at 16:09
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    @Era Just from having lived through the campaigns and hearing what the Democrats claimed. Apr 22, 2016 at 16:12
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    Google is your friend. Just from a cursory search I found sites that actually give evidence. crisismagazine.com/2012/… naturalnews.com/… freedomoutpost.com/southern-manifesto-truth-democrats Apr 25, 2016 at 2:41
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    @sabbahillel - Personally, I think either party laying claim to events from more than ~20 years ago is facetious. The current Republican party is not the Republicans of Lincoln's time. The current Democrat party is not the Democrats of FDR. Southern Democrats in what are now Republican states may have signed the Southern Manifesto, but LBJ (also a Democrat) forced through the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act that countered it. And all of that was long enough ago that the party composition of both parties has changed significantly since then.
    – Bobson
    Apr 25, 2016 at 15:04
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    @Bobson true. However, the point was that the Democrats have been consistent in their claims and have been lying consistently. In any case, this has nothing to do with the question. Apr 25, 2016 at 15:53

The President is usually the figurehead of a Nation, As the holder of the highest office, the President is the government in the mind of some people. Because of this, the public as a whole associates anything that happens in that country with the President.

Since people already have a mental connection between the President and the good things that happen in the country, it is easy convince the public that the president deserves credit for those things.

It goes the other way too. That same mental connection means that it is also easy to convince the public that the President deserves the blame for the bad things that happen, and since that is effective, people blame the President for things that happened too, regardless of whether or not the President was actually responsible for them.


Those presidents take credit for laws are often strong proponents for the bills that they sign into law. (e.g. Obama for the Affordable Healthcare Act). Since, as mentioned earlier, the president is the figurehead for the nation (and its government). Therefore, the president's support (or lack of support) for a bill can profoundly impact how it is perceived by legislators and the people of the United States.

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