John McCaslin

A familiar refrain is that President Bush’s response to threats from foreign powers is wholly inadequate. An alternative?

Just for fun, let’s say that one of the more successful (in terms of staying power) 2004 Democratic presidential candidates, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, had won the election. Where might we be today?

Late last week, Kucinich hardly made news (we think we have the scoop here) with this foreign policy proposal for dealing with America’s enemies: “We prepare for war so grandly; let us prepare for peace grandly by looking fearlessly and deep into the hearts of those who wish us harm, and find that spark of recognition that connects us to a common humanity and from that draw a flicker of hope to enkindle the warm glow of peace.

“After 9/11, we asked, ‘Why do they hate us?’ Isn’t it time for us to ask, ‘Why do we hate them?’

“Do we think about what hate does to our own hearts? Isn’t it time to put on the invincible armor of human compassion to explore human relations as the science of the human heart, in which we always have the capacity through courage, communication, patience and understanding to turn hate into love, and to beat our swords into plowshares.”


“You referred to congressman Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland as the House Democratic Whip,” writes Tom of nearby Hagerstown, Md. “Does the title ‘Whip’ mean what it suggests?”

Yes, educates the Center on Congress (located at Indiana University, because former longtime Rep. Lee Hamilton, Indiana Republican, was instrumental in its formation), which serves to improve public understanding of congressional proceedings.

The term “whip” first spread to Capitol Hill in 1887 from the British House of Commons, says the center.

“In the British practice, the ‘whipper-in’ plays an important role in the sport of fox hunting,” it explains. “He whips the dogs to keep them running after the fox as a pack, preventing them from running off on their own.”

The “whipper-ins” today are Majority Whip Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, ranked third in power behind the speaker and majority leader, and Hoyer, who ranks second behind the minority leader. Their job is to get out the vote on Capitol Hill by rounding up congressmen, tracking down absentees, manning the doors, handing out written messages, whispering words of advice, even giving thumb signals.

“In this day and age of relative political and financial independence, it is difficult to truly discipline members,” the center concedes. So to assist them, each whip has a pack of lesser whips: chief deputy whips, deputy whips, at-large whips, zone and regional whips.


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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