Retiring GOP Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee surprised colleagues and staffers on Capitol Hill this week by putting on an impromptu piano concert featuring traditional Christmas carols. Alexander, 80, served as his state's governor from 1979 to 1987, joined President George H.W. Bush's cabinet as education secretary in the early 1990s, then mounted a successful Senate run in 2002. Following three terms in the upper chamber, he is stepping aside next month (the seat was easily retained by fellow Republican Bill Hagerty in November). As something of a parting gift, the Volunteer State lawmaker sat down at an upright piano in the Hart office building and started playing:
NBC's "Today" aired some footage of Democrat Tim Kaine of Virginia (running mate of failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton) joining in and playing the harmonica alongside Alexander's rendition of "Go Tell It On The Mountain." In an era of acrimony and polarization in Washington, this brief respite from the angry noise is a delight to watch. Alexander is extremely well-liked and respected among his colleagues, underscored by an emotional tribute from the normally taciturn and clinical Mitch McConnell, who got choked up starting around the eleven-minute mark of this recent floor speech:
I'd also recommend watching Sen. Alexander's farewell address, which is really worth your time. It was followed by a prolonged, bipartisan standing ovation from many of his colleagues who'd entered the chamber to listen and wish him well earlier this month:
I'll leave you with a previous musical contribution from Alexander, back in 2008:
Happy trails and Merry Christmas, senator. Here's to a long, healthy and fulfilling retirement.