Grisham slams war, tells book's Iowa ties
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
September 21, 2007
Best-selling author John Grisham, taking his first major public step in presidential politics by planning to host an event Sunday near his home in Charlottesville, Va., for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, said the current administration is built around "bad people with evil intent" and contends President Bush played politics as thousands died in Iraq.
Grisham talked about this weekend's event during an interview Thursday to discuss his new book, "Playing for Pizza," a fictional account of a Davenport and University of Iowa football player trying to revive a fractured career in Italy.
"The war is an immoral abomination that we'll pay for for decades to come," Grisham said near the end of a 40-minute telephone interview with The Des Moines Register.
"We're paying for it now at the rate of 100 kids a month while Bush plays politics with it."
U.S. Department of Defense and Iraq Coalition Casualty Count statistics indicate the monthly average for American fatalities in Iraq is about 70.
Coalition fatalities average just more than 75 per month, according to the Iraq Coalition group.
A White House spokesperson contacted Thursday afternoon referred questions about Grisham's comments to the Republican National Committee.
"It's easy to level criticisms and attack those who offer solutions," said Chris Taylor, Midwest press secretary for the Republican National Committee. "It is much more difficult to make decisions and to lead."
Grisham, the author of 19 previous books, including popular courtroom fiction works "The Runaway Jury," "The Client," "The Pelican Brief" and "The Firm," said he has traditionally supported Democratic candidates financially and in other ways - but not in such a high-profile way.
"This is definitely the most visible thing I've done," he said.
Grisham, 52, said he made a few 1992 campaign stops in Mississippi for President Bill Clinton.
However, the former trial lawyer and legislator joked about his potential influence in politics.
"In 2004, I campaigned a little bit for John Kerry in South Carolina, which ... he lost," he said. "I guess that's why he didn't call me back."
Grisham said he and his wife met the Clintons 15 years ago at the White House but do not consider themselves close friends.
"I like Hillary. I think she's going to win," Grisham said. "I'm hopeful the Democrats can reclaim the White House. I think it's going to be very hard for the Republicans after this administration to hang on.
"I think she has the best chance to get the nomination."
Grisham said his differences with the current administration trace back to the beginning of its White House run.
"I've always thought that they were bad people with evil intent - and all that, it's playing out now," he said. "You can't hardly look at any aspect of the government in the seven years so far that's been run properly."
Taylor of the Republican National Committee defended the White House and administration.
"President Bush's aggressive prosecution of the war on terror has kept America safe," Taylor said. "His fiscal policies have grown our economy and he has upheld America's position as leader of the free world."
Grisham said he came up with the football-abroad idea for "Playing for Pizza," scheduled for release Monday, while in Italy working on his book "The Broker."
The quarterback, Rick Dockery, plays football at fictional Davenport South High School and at the University of Iowa before his NFL career bottoms out during a painful playoff loss as a backup quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.
Grisham said Iowa references in the book - including mentions of Des Moines and Council Bluffs - were mostly random.
"I don't really throw darts at the map, but you look at the map, and Iowa is always there in the center," he said.
The day before "Playing for Pizza" is released nationwide, Grisham will moderate discussion at the Clinton event.
Part of Grisham's motivation for getting involved in the political event, he said, is rooted in personal concerns about the current White House.
"I can't stand those people - and their incompetence is astounding," he said.
"I always thought you could at least depend on the Republican Party to maintain some semblance of fiscal responsibility.
"But they run up record deficits - taking care of billionaires that they want to take care of. Don't get me started on politics. I could go for a long time."