Cracking the Whip mystery

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For many years I've wondered what exactly the Whip does. This curiosity was enhanced by a 1995 conversation between Jerry and Kramer. "When the senators didn't vote the way that the party leaders wanted 'em to," Cosmo explained, "they whipped them. You better vote the way we want you to, or there's gonna be big trouble."

After hearing Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri won his bid to remain House Republican Whip, it was time to do some research.

Turns out Kramer wasn't too far off. The Whip's job is to ensure members of the party vote, know which way they plan to vote, and encourage them to vote together. The term was first used by Edmund Burke in 18th century Britain, borrowing a little fox hunting lingo. On the hunt, the "whip" is the person responsible for keeping dogs from straying.

But what if the Whip really yielded one? Could you propose other activities more exciting than counting sheep?

I'll throw one out there -- waking snoozing Senators and Congressmen.

Anyone else?

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November 17, 2006 - 9:30am
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