As news trickled out Tuesday morning that Congressman Paul Ryan would not seek the Senate seat now vacated by long-time Democratic Senator Herb Kohl, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin Mike Tate released a peculiar and non-sensical criticism of Ryan. In a press release entitled “Paul Ryan’s Cowardice,” Tate insinuates that Ryan is a coward for not running for Senate because “he knew his plans to end Medicare and hand Social Security over to Wall Street, while cutting benefits for working families and giving tax cuts to billionaires, was both morally and politically indefensible in the Badger State.”
In the words of Tate, “when it came time to be judged by the voters of Wisconsin, Paul Ryan cowered.”
On the one hand, it is rather peculiar that the Chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin would chide and criticize a prominent member of the other party for choosing not to run for a Senate seat that many believe Ryan could have won.
Furthermore, Tate’s accusation that Ryan is a coward is simply non-sensical and indefensible. Congressman Ryan was elected by wide margins in the First Congressional district for 12 years. In fact, Ryan won each of his elections by 14 points or more. The accusation that Ryan is afraid to face voters does not hold any water, particularly when Ryan held 19 town hall meetings in his district to explain his Path to Prosperity to constituents. Keeping a calm demeanor, Ryan’s presentations were met with both applause and derision. But Ryan never once shied away from constituents or their questions.
And whether one agrees with Ryan or not on his Path to Prosperity plan, Congressman Ryan submitted the first serious proposal to tackle the $14 trillion debt that threatens to swallow our economy with dire implications. Previous generations of Republicans and Democrats alike ignored the problem of debt out of political expediency, authorizing more spending while touting inconsequential budget cuts. And despite criticism from President Obama and prominent members of his own party, Ryan is confidently forcing a conversation about a problem long ignored by politicians of both parties. Without getting into the merits of his plan, Ryan is undeniably displaying leadership.
Ryan’s decision to not run for U.S. Senate might be called shrewd by many, smart by most, and even stupid by some. But an act of cowardice, no.
Once again, Mike Tate’s release of this non-sensical and indefensible criticism of Ryan reveals the growing irrelevancy of his tenure as Democratic Chairman.