Do you remember the origin of the phrase ? Obama opponents have been quoting it for a long time. Who started it? Obama, when first running for office, said "I want you to argue with them and get in their face," which isn't the same as a punch in the face, though it does recommend aggression (of the verbal kind). Of course, "punch back twice as hard" is also only a recommendation of verbal aggression, delivered with the verbal aggression of a physical violence metaphor.
But "Punch back twice as hard" came from deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, and the whole quote was: "If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard." So within the metaphor, the other side has hit you first.
And, indeed, Williams does portray the President as having been hit.
He tells him to "get off the mat and fight." That's a boxing metaphor — Williams tells us his "dad trained professional fighters" — and you're only on the mat, if you've been punched hard. Williams parlays the boxing metaphor into a fire metaphor, telling us that his father used to tell boxers that "fear is like fire": "It can burn your house down, but if you take control it can keep you warm, cook your food and show you the way to victory."
Williams ends the article: "Time to start your fire, Mr. President."
Which is funny — at least for metaphor fans — because the Williams column begins not with fire but water, lots of water, as Williams bemoans the weak, enervated, passive, sad-eyed President:
In his recent, lengthy interview with the New Yorker magazine, the president comes across as passive... The president all but confirms this sad-eyed portrait when he is quoted as saying that after five years in the White House he feels as helpless as a “relay swimmer in a river full of rapids and that river is history.” Poor Barack.Obama's sport is not boxing. It's swimming, or perhaps boating. He's out, lost, in a little boat or immersed in the rapids and struggling to swim. And once there was an ocean that he thought he could control.
Later he continues his “one man in a little boat lost in the endless sea” analogy by saying he has tried to move forward but he is thwarted by having to “take into account winds and currents and occasionally the lack of any wind, so that you’re just sitting there for awhile and sometimes you’re being blown all over the place.”...
What happened to the inspirational candidate of 2008 who confidently told people that history will record his victorious run for president as “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal?”
With the sea at your feet....