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Embracing a ‘reformed’ radical won’t win votes

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Recently Alan Webber, a Democrat seeking his party’s nomination for governor of New Mexico, had a cocktail party at Mark Rudd’s house in Albuquerque. I wasn’t invited, but, if I’d been there, it would have given me a chance to thank Mark Rudd.

You see, it takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong, so I was impressed that Rudd now admits that trying to kill my whole family wasn’t such a good idea.

Rudd, you may recall, is the Weather Underground terrorist who, after laying low as a fugitive for most of the ’70s, settled in New Mexico and has since lived out his life as a math teacher and occasional “political organizer.”

In his radical prime, Rudd was the self-proclaimed architect of the Weather Underground’s supposed violent revolution in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

Though remarkably inept and ineffective – their biggest score was inadvertently killing three of their own members in the explosion of a Greenwich Village bomb factory – Rudd and his fellows didn’t fail for lack of trying. For several years they planted explosives in government buildings and elsewhere across the 50 states.

Rudd’s compatriot, Bill Ayers, likes to say they only damaged property and never killed anyone. Likely, the family of San Francisco Police Officer Brian McDonnell would disagree.

McDonnell was killed when a Weather Underground bomb severed his jugular vein and lodged a staple in his brain.

Nevertheless, even taking them at their word, the Weathermen’s lack of a body count reflects more on their skill than their scruples.

Indeed, that is how our paths crossed four decades ago.

In February 1970, while Rudd and company were planning the American utopia, I was trying to finish fourth grade. At the time, my father, a New York State judge, was presiding over the trial of members of the Black Panther Party accused of planning a bombing campaign in New York.

Early on the morning of Feb. 21, the Weather Underground detonated four bombs at our family’s home in upper Manhattan. My parents, my brother and sister and I all had to be rescued from our burning home by neighbors and firefighters.

Oh, and the explosion at the bomb factory? That occurred three weeks later when, as another member of the Underground later wrote, disappointed by the ineffectiveness of gasoline and rags at my house, they were stepping up their game, assembling dynamite and nails intended for a dance at the Officer’s Club at Fort Dix.

Rudd has stated that the plan was to kill hundreds and that he had personally approved of the attack.

Rudd claims to advocate “non-violent militancy.” Of course, that advocacy includes recently referring to New Mexican men and women serving in the U.S. Military as “murderers” and identifying Sen. John McCain, who spent years in a Vietnamese prison camp, as a “terrorist.”

All of which begs the question why Alan Webber was sipping cocktails and raising campaign cash in Rudd’s living room recently.

Rudd and his wife hosted Webber at their home last month, and Rudd formally endorsed him the next day.

When called upon to explain his embrace of the terrorist, Webber said: “I just met Mark Rudd. Of course I denounce terrorism and understand Mark Rudd regrets his involvement with the radical anti-government group from the 1960s.”

Incredibly, Webber went on to say that if he has to explain his relationship to Rudd, Gov. Susana Martinez should explain her relationship to Sarah Palin.

That, I suspect, is a comparison that neither Palin nor Rudd would much care for.

Webber refuses to disown Rudd, despite his past and, equally, his present. Apparently, he happily takes the endorsement and the cash of a man who views loyal New Mexicans serving their country as “murderers.” Thus, it will be for voters in New Mexico to decide what this says about Weber’s politics and his core beliefs.

If you visit Mark Rudd’s website today, you will read that he now believes “my comrades and I in the leadership of Weatherman made specific bad decisions based on our evolving and deepening ideology toward the chimera of revolution and the strategy revolutionary guerilla warfare.”

Good to know that, Mark. I just wish you’d thought of it the night before my house was bombed.

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