WASHINGTON—As the nation falls deeper into the grip of a pandemic that has forced compromises upon his most cherished principles, a self-loathing Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) acknowledged Friday he could not believe he had been reduced to defending the necessity of public schools in a civil society. “I hear these words coming out of my mouth, these requests for more federal dollars so public schools can reopen, and I wonder, ‘My God, what have I become?’” said Alexander, who wondered aloud whether he might still be able to console himself by diverting money from lunch programs and using it to build more charter schools. “I can barely recognize myself anymore, this man who goes on television and talks about how a return to normalcy in American life depends upon increasing funds to public schools and ensuring they have everything they need to succeed. Ugh, how has it come to this? Has the half century I’ve spent in politics been a complete waste?” At press time, Alexander had reportedly cheered himself up by thinking about all the public school teachers and staff whose health would be threatened by reopening too soon.