Moving as they do in a world steeped in spin, elected officials reliably take credit for the good and deflect blame for the bad.
The perennial question is whether their claims of credit are credible.
This week’s upbeat press release from Exxon Mobil regarding its long-term expansion on the Gulf Coast moved President Donald Trump to crow: “We are already winning again.”
“This is something that was done to a large extent because of our policies and the policies of this new administration,” he said. “I said we’re bringing back jobs and this is one big example of it.”
Never mind that the giant energy company clearly stated in its announcement: “Investments began in 2013 and are expected to continue through at least 2022.”
A company official told Business Insider: “We provided information about our announcement to the White House and they decided they wanted to issue a congratulatory press release.”
Just for perspective: Back in 2013 Trump — who as president would later pluck the energy giant’s CEO as his secretary of state — had other things on his mind.
“Exxon donated $250g to Obama’s inaugural,” he tweeted back then, linking to a Breitbart News story. “I guess the Democrats have no problem accepting money from ‘big oil.’”
Which is not to say the company has any problem with long-lived Republican policies that favor easier regulations.
Similar instances are piling up.
Last week Trump declared before Congress: “We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price” of the F-35 jet fighter.
But according to the apolitical magazine Popular Mechanics: “The president seems to be taking credit for something that was going to happen anyway.”
Air Force General Chris Bogdan, who heads the F-35 Joint Program Office, predicted late in 2016 that the jets’ prices would drop by “6-7 percent” between development phases.
“As such, Trump’s claimed $600 million cut is right in the ballpark of what the price reduction was going to be all along,” the magazine said.
Before that came the president’s interactions with the Ford Motor Company — which Trump claimed he kept from expanding operations in Mexico.
But that’s not how Ford told it.
Ford CEO Mark Fields told CNBC in January: “The bottom line is we’re not seeing the volume and the demand that we expected for that plant. And, therefore, we’re looking at our capacity and saying, ‘You know what, we can build that in an existing facility and use capacity that we already have.’”
Days are growing longer since Trump took office. At least that’s one expansion for which neither he nor any other politician have yet to take credit.