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Opening Arguments

Mean and aggressive

OK, negative political ads tend to be misleading. We all know that. Still, one that's on TV now is a little galling.

It's on behalf of Democratic state Senate candidate Jack Morris, and it is, of course, a slam on Republican candidate Liz Brown. She is "mean," the ad says, and "aggressive" and "driven by politics and revenge," all things Morris will banish with, I guess, the politics of niceness.

The "aggressive" label is attributed to "The News-Sentinel, 2010." Now, I don't remember writing an editorial labeling Liz "aggressive," so I did an archive search, and I was right -- no such piece exists. But I did find this article by our Bob Caylor:

In less than three years on Fort Wayne's City Council, Liz Brown has built a reputation she hopes to parlay into the Republican nomination to represent the 3rd District in Congress.

She pegs that reputation clearly: “My detractors think I'm mean and aggressive,” she said. “My supporters like my directness and cutting through the b.s.”

Beyond making a mark with sometimes polarizing style, Brown has tackled key areas of city spending.

Maybe there's an article I'm missing, and if so, I hope somebody points me to it. But if this is the one being quoted, to call the ad misleading is a gross understatement. Liz is talking about herself and describing what her detractors say. To lift one word from the sentence and pretend it is something somebody at The News-Sentinel said is a dishonest smoke-and-mirrors show. Honestly, they could have gone with "sometimes polarizing style" and been on much firmer ground.

Personally, I think Liz's supporters are more right than her detractors. What some call mean and aggressive could be seen just as easily as "direct and cutting through the b.s." I forgot that momentarily, which is why I think I completely misread the primary campaign she won. I thought it would be a close three-way race with Sheriff Ken Fries pulling out a squeaker against her and County Councilman Darren Vogt. It was actually a two-way race, with Vogt not being much of a factor and Brown kicking Fries' butt. The thing I though would turn voters off -- her "sometimes polarizing style" is really what appealed to them. It's a jungle down in Indy, so why send a pussycat to the Senate when we can send a tigress?

Why is "aggressive" seen as a negative for an elected official, by the way? Do we elect people to be passive? And isn't calling her "mean" kind of sexist? How often are male politician described that way? And since when do we expect politicians not to have political motives? "Acting out of revenge," I'll give you as a negative, but somebody give me one example of Liz doing that.  Whether you have agreed with her or not, she has always acted on her beliefs and principles, as far as I can tell.