The Nation: Casus Belli

Perhaps it was the atmosphere of the Ali-Frazier championship fight that prompted an excess of macho in Washington. The news trickled out that during the annual Gridiron Club dinner, an evening of ritual satire offered by the capital's newsmen, House Democratic Whip Hale Boggs, 57, was decked with one punch in a Statler-Hilton men's room by Indiana Republican (and former Congressman) Edward Mitchell, 60, supposedly because he objected to the abusive cracks that Boggs was making about the Nixon Administration.

There was a certain nostalgia in the episode, a glimpse of the 19th century days when Washington was a more crudely physical...

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