Rev. Al to Oxonians: Yassky “Cynical,” 2008 Dems Absent on Poverty

We interrupt our holiday hiatus to bring you this exclusive Rev. Al update:

Sharpton waded once again into the murky waters of the 11th District controversy at a private event last night, accusing David Yassky of reviving racial politics before going on to criticize Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Mark Warner for failing to prioritize the issue of poverty.

Speaking in the tony surroundings of the Princeton Club, where he addressed a meeting of New York’s Oxonian Society, Sharpton restated his core position on the 11th – that Yassky has the right to run, but that the three African-American contenders should “consolidate” around one candidate.

“I think that some of what the candidate did, the white candidate, was cynical,” Sharpton said.

“He did not live in the district. I think he saw an opportunity there to come in and try to get a solid vote from the white [sic] and some blacks and win. If he thought he was qualified to go to Congress, he should have ran where he lived. He moved into the district, and caused this kind of racial political revival.

“I just think we ought to be politically savvy enough not to allow the scenario that I feel [Yassky's] advisors saw become reality by having a divided black vote,” he said.

During the hour-long event, Sharpton also excoriated the frontrunners for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination for what he contended was their abject failure to address the issue of poverty.

“If you listen to all the names that are out there now – Warner, Hillary, all of them – what are their programs on poverty? What are they saying about poverty? It is almost unthinkable that you would have an opposition party that has no plan to deal with poverty and [is] not even talking about it.”

The last Democratic candidate for president also wound up in Sharpton’s sights:

“I could not believe that after the primaries, we couldn’t even get John Kerry to mention the word ‘poor’,” he exclaimed at one point.

One audience member asked the activist whether he would be running again for the presidential nomination in 2008.

“I haven’t decided,” came the reply.

Sharpton, who spoke at length about how morality has come to be defined in American politics, also had harsh words about the response of some other high-profile clergymen to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

“Certainly, I thought my friend and colleague Jerry Falwell would rush to a studio and raise the moral issue of Americans dying,” he said with heavy sarcasm. “Certainly Pat Robertson, who has his own network, would have cancelled programs and delayed selling bibles and prayer cloths to raise the question of people drowning in an American city.

“This kind of selective morality to me came front and center in the Katrina catastrophe.”

– Niall Stanage