July 14th, 2012
09:01 AM ET

Letters to the President #1272: 'Throwing leather'

Reporter's Note: President Obama is duking it out with Mitt Romney. I’m keeping a safe distance and just writing letters.

Dear Mr. President,

Ever since yesterday I have been thinking about the boxing theme I wrote about, and I want to pick up on a related part which I would suggest to you and your Republican opponent alike, to wit: Make sure you fight your fight.

Sometimes I’ve watched a talented boxer climb into the ring and start measuring up his opponent in the early rounds. Once he has a feel for the guy’s strengths, he starts trying to take the leather to him and control the fight. If he is a guy who likes to pound away at the other guy’s mid-section, that’s what he does; hoping to chop his foe down like a tree, or force him to expose his head. If he prefers big punches up top, that’s what he’ll work on.

The problem comes if the opponent has an effective defense. Many times I’ve watched that happen, and then watched the first fighter become frustrated. Interestingly enough, he becomes more frustrated the more talented he is, as if he can’t believe that a lesser boxer can so frustrate his plans. And that’s when it gets dangerous.

When an aggressor starts getting impatient, it is very tempting for him to change his method of attack entirely, hoping to break through his opponent’s stubborn resistance. That can affect his stance, his balance, the force of his punches, and most importantly, his defense. I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched that happen: A good boxer gets so far out of his comfortable fighting zone trying to force a quick or decisive win that suddenly he is stunned to realize his hapless foe is controlling the bout…and then it is all over.

My advice? Have a variety of tactics and weapons, and an essential plan, then be patient enough to let them work. Because straying too far from the fight you want, can lead you into a ring where you really don’t want to be.

Hope all is well.