‘Fixin’ a Hole in the Ocean’: What a Divided Congress Means

As a result of the recent midterm election, next year’s Congress will be divided between a Democratic majority controlling the House and a Republican majority controlling the Senate. Naturally, the question arises whether the two chambers and President Trump can agree upon and accomplish anything. Though some observers remain optimistic about the prospects, I am less than sanguine.

To explain my wariness, let us take a brief respite from divisive congressional politics and examine another realm where tribal attachments and animosities reign: Beatles fans.

Just as people are divided between their attachments to Republicans and Democrats in the pending Congress, to say nothing of the sundry independents tossed into the mix, Beatles fans all have a favorite between John, Paul, George, and Ringo. This week marks the 50th anniversary re-release of “The Beatles,” which has been brilliantly remastered by a team led by Giles Martin. In a development that doubtless caused many Regressives indigestion, “The Beatles” is known colloquially as “The White Album,”; and originally was produced by Martin’s father, the legendary George Martin. The elder Martin once remarked that the double album of 30 songs actually should have been a single album comprised of the standard 14 tracks. “I thought we should probably have made a very, very good single album rather than a double,” he said. “But they insisted.”

They likely insisted because the album, while still a group effort, was far more individualistic than had been past efforts. (Indeed, this is the album upon which Ringo made his debut as a songwriter.) Thus, it is not surprising the four members wanted a double album. Each one would have some of their songs necessarily left off a single record.

But ever since George Martin made his comment, Beatles fans have tried to cull the double discs to produce the perfect one-disc White Album. Personally, I’m glad the Beatles put out the double album, as it saved me a lot of money chasing down bootlegs of the sessions’ outtakes. Nevertheless, for this exercise, as a Marxist-Lennonist (Groucho and John), I am going to posit my perfect one-disc White Album.

First, I’ll list the name of the Beatle and his songs that are being left off the album; and then I’ll list my perfect White Album with song titles followed by the name of the Beatle most responsible for it. (Note: the order of the songs will remain as the Beatles intended, except for the fact the edited tunes will be missing.)

Here goes:

John songs cut (6): The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill; I’m So Tired; Sexy Sadie; Cry, Baby, Cry; Revolution #1; Revolution #9

Paul songs cut (7): Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da; Wild Honey Pie; Martha My Dear; Rocky Raccoon; I Will; Mother Nature’s Son; Honey Pie

George songs cut (2): Piggies; Long, Long, Long

Ringo song cut (1): Don’t Pass Me By

My perfect White Album (14):

Back in the U.S.S.R. (Paul)

Dear Prudence (John)

Glass Onion (John)

While My Guitar Gently Weeps (George)

Happiness Is a Warm Gun (John)

Blackbird (Paul)

Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? (Paul)

Julia (John)

Birthday (Paul)

Yer Blues (John)

Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey (John)

Helter Skelter (Paul)

Savoy Truffle (George)

Goodnight (Ringo)

My perfect White Album is comprised of six John songs; five Paul songs; two George songs; and one Ringo song. And, believe me, given the band dynamics at the time, in my mind I have been eminently fair to the Paul, George and Ringo partisans. There is a part of me that would have included more John tunes and fewer Paul ditties. Of course, those Beatles fans whose favorite member of the band is Paul or George or Ringo would disagree with my perfect White Album; and I encourage them to devise and submit their own perfect White Albums for consideration. After all, such discussions and debates among Beatles fans of all ages and persuasions are good clean fun and nobody gets hurt.

Lurching back to a dirty world where people do get hurt, let’s look at my perfect White Album in a political context.

Imagine my perfect White Album was a House bill in a chamber controlled by Paul fans; and, upon introduction, it is besieged and belittled by the Paul, George, and Ringo partisans and their elitist media, social media, shadowy special interests groups and other political class allies—and even by some of my fellow John partisans who disagreed with my choices of his songs and/or thought more Paul tunes should have hit the cutting room floor.

If, after all the din, my perfect White Album in its ultimately amended (i.e., watered down) form makes it through committee and on the House floor is voted over to the other chamber, nothing says the Senate controlled by John fans will even consider it. Perhaps they view the amended, Paul-heavy White Album as a non-starter; or, after watching the battle for House passage, they deem the issue as a no-win one for them.

But even if senators were to find a way to deliberate the merits of the House’s perfect White Album, amended it to restore the John-heavy track listing, and sent it back to the House which eventually concurs with them over the bill’s substance, nothing says the president won’t look over Congress’s perfect White Album; shake his fist in rage that Ringo has only one tune; and veto the damn thing.

Given all the interests involved, it is almost impossible for the Paul-controlled House and the John-controlled Senate to override the president’s veto, likely because both chambers alienated too many George and Ringo members along the way to muster a two-thirds vote.

So who wants to bet that over the next two years a Democratic-controlled House and a Republican-controlled Senate can work with President Trump to achieve any major legislative accomplishment?

Did I mention 2020 is a presidential election year?

Talk about “fixin’ a hole in the ocean.

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Photo Credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

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