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Dave Helfert
After nearly 40-years in journalism, governmental and political communication, Dave Helfert now teaches graduate courses in communication at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC and the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin. He also teaches policy communication and writing at George Mason's School of Policy, Government and International Affairs in Arlington, VA.

Dave's career included nine years as a Congressional Communications Director and six years with the Clinton Administration. Before coming to Washington, he was an award-winning television news reporter, managing partner of a marketing-advertising agency and a political-governmental affairs consultant, writing and producing media in more than 160 Democratic political campaigns. He is currently writing a handbook on political communication.

Entries by Dave Helfert

We Hold These Truths to Be Inconvenient

(139) Comments | Posted February 18, 2015 | 1:21 PM

Among the most sacred rights enumerated in the U.S. Constitution is the ownership and control of private property. It's not quite as sacred as our God-given right to cruise Main Street with military-style automatic weapons, of course, but still pretty sacred.

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank founded...

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(0) Comments | Posted February 7, 2015 | 1:34 PM

"Political designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."
George Orwell
Politics and the English Language

Orwell had a particularly dark view of political rhetoric. And if you reflect on the language...

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The Ghost of Christmas Past

(1) Comments | Posted December 22, 2014 | 7:57 AM

All the hullaballoo over the United States government's' use of torture as an officially-sanctioned intelligence gathering process was bad enough. It brought back memories of a shameful period in American history. But when Dick Cheney reappeared to defend the practice of torture, it was the worst specter of Christmas past....

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Republicans and the Prehistoric Foop Bird

(2) Comments | Posted December 8, 2014 | 10:07 AM

Their near sweep in the mid-term election has generated a lot of speculation about the impact of a Republican majority in the House and Senate for the first time since 2006. Will Mitch McConnell and John Boehner lead a unified, purposeful GOP and move major legislation smoothly through the legislative...

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Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

(1) Comments | Posted November 10, 2014 | 5:05 PM

We'll never know if Democrats actually could have emerged from the November 4th mid-term election with a few new Senate seats, like Kansas, Kentucky or even Georgia. Or if they could have held on to a few they lost, like Arkansas, Colorado or South Dakota. We'll never know because once...

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It's a MAD, MAD, MAD World

(0) Comments | Posted October 23, 2014 | 1:41 PM

Way back during the Cold War, the U.S. and Soviet Union were locked in a tense face-off for decades. Both sides had huge arsenals of thermonuclear devices. But there was a doctrine of military strategy called Mutually Assured Destruction, or MAD, that kept the missiles in their silos. It became...

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Discrimination Isn't Part of Religious Freedom. Never Was. Still Isn't.

(0) Comments | Posted March 5, 2014 | 11:29 AM

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964, it's ironic to see the same kinds of bigotry outlawed by that landmark legislation specifically protected by law in several states and considered by state legislatures in many...

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Using One Frame of Film to Review the Whole Movie

(0) Comments | Posted December 18, 2013 | 5:19 PM

Depending on their political gland, a lot of folks are either highly agitated or highly elated over the performance of the Obama administration, especially if their opinions are formed or reinforced by day-to-day political news coverage and punditry. But the frustration or elation might be a tad premature because the...

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Gov. Rick Perry's New Eyeglasses Haven't Improved His Vision

(3) Comments | Posted November 10, 2013 | 5:18 PM

Texas Governor Rick Perry has recently taken to appearing around the country at political events and in television interviews wearing stylish dark-rimmed eyeglasses. And, while, according to some observers, his new specs make him look smarter, he continues to display a profound case of myopia.

Gov. Perry appeared at several...

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Retreat Hell!

(5) Comments | Posted October 18, 2013 | 12:26 PM

Okay, everybody who thinks the tea party and the other rightwing nuts and bolts in Congress have learned a difficult but valuable lesson take one step forward. Not so fast!

The far right's immediate reaction to overwhelming rejection of tea party priorities by the American public has been to take...

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Just Sorting Things Out

(2) Comments | Posted October 13, 2013 | 6:26 PM

The government shutdown serves no discernible purpose beyond setting a very dangerous stage for competing political interests to try to advance their agendas and, of course, giving the news media and political commentators an urgent issue to cover and interpret.

Yet it's a fascinating time to be...

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'What Are You Laughing At? You're Next!'

(1) Comments | Posted September 26, 2013 | 1:55 PM

Tea party-led Republicans in Congress put a gun to their own heads and demanded that President Obama give them everything they want, or else. And when congressional Democrats snickered, they snarled, "What are you laughing at? You're next!"

The wacky tea party plan to force the Obama administration into delaying...

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Will Enough Ever Be Enough?

(5) Comments | Posted September 19, 2013 | 2:52 PM

A real challenge to writing about the horrific, almost unimaginable shooting rampage at Washington Navy Yard is offering an insight, an observation -- even an argument -- that hasn't been offered before about any one of the six other horrific, unimaginable shootings since the Newtown massacre of 20 first-grade children...

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It's About Freaking Time!

(2) Comments | Posted August 12, 2013 | 9:06 AM

Five years after Republicans tapped into a gusher of baseless, hateful, often racist and nearly always dishonest claims about President Barack Obama and the Democratic agenda;

Four years after Tea Party Summer, when the FreedomWorks organization, backed financially by the Brothers Koch, brought hundreds of overwrought and...

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Step by Step

(0) Comments | Posted July 15, 2013 | 12:58 PM

Republicans in the House of Representatives have stated that the word 'comprehensive' is now a nonstarter for any legislative approach to address major issues, even those issues that might require a thoughtful, comprehensive perspective. The GOP preference is to consider solutions to complex national problems, such as healthcare and immigration...

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I'm Just a Bill

(7) Comments | Posted June 28, 2013 | 3:52 PM

Bill: "I'm just a bill. Yes, I'm only a bill. And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill."

Citizen: "Hey, Bill. I guess it's really tough to be a bill in Congress these days."

Bill: "Tough? Does a 50 pound sack of flour make a big biscuit? It...

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Eeeek! I've Been Snooped!

(5) Comments | Posted June 19, 2013 | 6:53 PM

The idea that the United States government might be spying on some of our personal communication is a little creepy. If I phone a friend in Baghdad, Kabul or Moscow, or even London or Paris, there's apparently a chance that a record of my call could wind up in a...

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'Everything We See Is Perspective, Not the Truth'

(20) Comments | Posted April 24, 2013 | 6:05 PM

In political and governmental communication, the line between spin and propaganda can be pale and indistinct, but there is a line. Spin generally means pushing facts that put your person or your issue in the best light. Nearly every retail pitch inherently uses spin to sell a product or service....

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If the Other Side Is Crying Foul, It Must Be Working

(0) Comments | Posted February 28, 2013 | 5:26 PM

Congressional Republicans are in full screech about President Barack Obama's "political campaigning instead of leading." They're sweating bullets because he continues to be so successful at marshaling public opinion to the Democratic perspective on fiscal cliffs, spending cuts, tax increases and, generally, who's zoomin' who. Polls tell us Republicans are...

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America: Armed and Dangerous

(29) Comments | Posted January 8, 2013 | 5:23 PM

A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Those 27 words may have stirred more anger and accusation -- let alone paranoid fantasies and institutional lunacy -- than any other language in...

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