If Sen. John Kerry becomes president on the basis of the shameful campaign tactics he has been employing in recent days, bitterness and division will attend him. He will have lost credibility with many serious-minded people whose support he will need, and many Republicans may be so distrustful as to want to destroy him.
In an election year that is already so full of anger, it's extraordinary what he's doing — claiming that President Bush plans to reinstitute the draft and cut Social Security by 43 percent. Kerry is no fool, which is to say, he doesn't believe what he's saying. He apparently figures that winning trumps all other considerations. He is wrong. He will have made the job of governing more difficult for himself. And he will have earned a spot in the history books he will not like.
Should he apologize? It may seem unlikely at this point in the election. But Kerry might recall that Vice President Dick Cheney did back off from his assertion that a terrorist attack would occur in America if Kerry were elected. Cheney admitted one could occur no matter who was elected. Sometimes a complete apology is unnecessary — just a "clarification."
Then Kerry should watch himself in the future. He can be aggressive and bold and tough, but avoid tactics that eventually will be seen by most people for exactly what they are: unbefitting a presidential candidate.