My favorite story coming out of Washington these days is the emergence of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. as one bad hombre you wouldn’t want to mess with.
Last week Jackson got into a heated exchange on the floor of Congress with Lee Terry, a Republican congressman from Omaha, Nebraska. There are two sides to the story, which has been reported in the Washington Post and the Omaha World-Herald, but, curiously, not in either the Sun-Times or Tribune.
According to Terry, Jackson started it by cursing at him and asking him to “step outside.” According to Jackson, he was just minding his own business when Terry began cursing at him.
The consensus in Washington is that Jackson would have whupped Terry’s butt. “It would have been Bruce Lee vs. Pillsbury Dough Boy,” one congressional aide told the Post.
It turns out Jackson’s been studying martial arts and is an expert in kung fu and tae kwon do. He’s even got a slide show of himself in action on his Web site — you gotta see it to believe it.
I called Frank Coconate, the only guy I know who’s had a run-in with Jackson. Coconate, the former city sewer worker who was fired after publicly urging Jackson to run against Mayor Daley, had a falling out with Jackson last summer at a restaurant — another dispute that got loud and nasty.
“Oh, yeah, Jackson’s really into that kung-fu stuff — he’s got a tattoo on his arm,” says Coconate. “I showed him my tattoo and he showed me his. This was before we had the fight, when we were getting along. His is some sort of Asian writing, saying body, soul and mind or something like that. He said he took martial arts lessons to protect himself. I don’t know — I guess he thinks he’s really tough since he lost all of that weight a few years ago.”
Too bad he didn’t show some of that toughness by going after Mayor Daley in this year’s election.