On summer afternoons in the Dexter-Davison neighborhood of Detroit where I grew up, my brothers and I would return from the party store around the corner from our house with snacks of sugar-filled goodies. My older brother Che favored "Now and Laters," while I preferred Faygo Red Pop (65 cents a bottle) and Jay's Red Hot potato chips (35 cents a bag).
Once we turned the corner onto our street, we had to be on the look out for any other kid at the ready for our mettle-testing game of "Snatches." The rules were simple. If someone walked up and shouted "snatches" he could rip the bag of chips from your hands. If he said "pieces" the owner of the goodies had to share. If he was mean enough to call "knockouts" he could smash your bag to the ground, knocking it out of your hands so neither of you could enjoy its contents.
The only way to inoculate yourself from these varied attacks on your snacks was to shout out "no snatches, no pieces, no knockouts, no nothin's!" I have no idea who started it, but it was a tough game for a tough neighborhood.
This is exactly the kind of game that Hillary Clinton is playing with the Democratic Party. She has decided that she will either snatch this nomination from Barack Obama or knock the presidency from the grasp of the entire Democratic Party.
Even with a loss in Pennsylvania, Obama has been more successful than Clinton by every meaningful measure. He has won more contests, primary and caucus; he has won more popular votes, and, most importantly, more delegates. Obama has won the support of more elected officials (governors, senators and members of Congress) and has closed the gap in super delegates from over 90 to less than 25. Obama has won large states like Missouri and Wisconsin, southern states like Virginia and Georgia and western states like Colorado and Washington. He has larger crowds, better poll numbers, and he has raised more money. Put simply, Obama is winning and Clinton can't catch up – unless she destroys him and the hopes of most Democrats in the process.
Hillary Clinton should make her own judgment about when to get out of the race. I have been a part of losing campaigns before, and it is one of the most gut-wrenching decisions for a candidate to make, but one thing is clear: the relentless negative attacks should stop. Since Clinton started falling behind, Obama has been on the receiving end of a relentless barrage of negative attacks.
The Clinton campaign has tried to discredit Obama on several fronts. The only way for Obama to lose the nomination is for Clinton to ensure that he no longer wins white votes so that he'll lose miserably in each state. Snatches!
If, despite the damage, he is still the nominee, perhaps he will be forced to take her as the vice presidential candidate to keep the party together. Pieces!
That looks fairly unlikely.
The Clinton strategy to cripple Obama may strengthen her case with super delegates but it would mean that most Democrats would be demoralized and disappointed while the party is left with a candidate who, according to recent polls, many Americans do not trust and who does not represent the change that the nation seeks.
In 1992, Bill Clinton's campaign argued that the election was about "change vs. more of the same." Clinton is the fourth member of the Bush and Clinton families to run for president in 20 years, and she has developed as a reputation for saying anything for political gain. A Clinton campaign in the fall could make John McCain look like the real change agent in the fall. Knockouts!
Back in my old neighborhood, losing all of your precious goodies from a snatch or a knockout could result in a full blown fistfight, leaving both kids battered and bruised.
In a year when the Democratic Party should have so many advantages, that would be a miserable way to end the primaries. Hillary Clinton can campaign as long as she wants, but the negativity comes at a cost. Just like in my old neighborhood, somebody needs to call "no nothin's" and force her to stop.
Jamal Simmons is a contributor for The Root.