Sniper Bid: Interview with Author Rick Robinson
Published By: All Right Magazine on December 26, 2008
An ALL RIGHT MAGAZINE Exclusive Interview
Make a new year’s resolution to pick up this political thriller.
All Right Magazine: Sniper
Bid, the follow-up to your book The Maximum Contribution, follows
the protagonist Rick Thompson to Congress where he finds himself knee-deep in
the Major League Baseball steroids controversy in addition to a gruesome and
ruthless murder plot. The action begins
almost instantaneously, which seems to be part of your style. Do you have a particular reason for jumping
right into the story as opposed to the slower, more deliberate buildup one
might read in other stories?
Rick: I have to admit that I don’t read much
fiction. When I read, I tend to read
historical non-fiction. I’m halfway
through Team of Rivals
On the rare occasion that I do pick up a book of fiction, I
like the ones where the action starts out right at the beginning. A book of fiction has to catch my attention
pretty quickly for me to keep going. So,
I write that way too.
My favorite writer is David Baldacci, and he has a tendency
to kill someone in the first several pages.
Now that gets your attention.
All Right Magazine: Thompson is a complex character because he is
an idealistic crusader who also believes in Barry Goldwater’s philosophy of
limited government, and the contradiction therein is one of the struggles he
faces, which not coincidentally is one of the major problems facing true
conservatives. Is Major League Baseball
the proper setting for government regulation and congressional hearings?
Rick: When I’m writing, I will read and re-read Goldwater’s
Conscience of a Conservative
for help in developing Thompson’s own thought process. The internal dialogue which Thompson has near
the end of the book regarding the Federal government’s involvement in the issue
of steroids came from one of those late-night readings.
Goldwater believed that the Constitution was a limiting
document and that the Federal government should only be involved in issues
where the Constitution directly authorizes the action.
I add the Goldwater edge, not because I’m questioning a
particular issue. I put it in there to
make those of us who call ourselves “conservatives” question our own political
philosophy. Many times, today’s
“conservative” position would have Goldwater rolling over in his grave.
I hope that passage will make a reader question the Federal
government’s involvement in other, more important, issues. Insert the word “bailout” for “steroids” and
you’ll get my point.
All Right Magazine:
As a former aide to Jim Bunning (R-KY) did you ever contact him for some Hall
of Fame input on the subject of Major League Baseball for Sniper Bid?
Rick: No, but working in his office was a daily
Hall of Fame experience for a baseball fan like me. Baseball players were always dropping by the
office. Hank Aaron stopped in the office
one day, and I sat in as the two of them told story after story. They seemed to remember each pitch of every
game they had ever played in. It was
One day, I went to a ceremony at the White House with
Bunning where President Bush (41) honored Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. I met the President, Teddy Ballgame and
Joltin’ Joe in the Rose Garden of the White House. That’s not a bad day for a kid from Ludlow,
Watching a baseball game with Jim is really fun, because
he’s always analyzing technique.
Apparently, baseball is all about the pitcher.
All Right Magazine: In the course of the book, it is revealed
that performance-enhancing drugs have been a part of the game since
the1940s. Was it simply a matter of
economics that the problem had never seriously been addressed until very
Rick: Fans look at the steroids in baseball and are
outraged at MLB’s apparent malaise about the issue. But baseball has always been slow tom react
to drugs in the sport. I use the
“greenie” issue to demonstrate that fact that baseball has never taken a strong
stance against performance enhancing substances.
Greenies have been around baseball since the 40s. But baseball only just recently put them on
its list of banned substances. They
banned several natural substances before they finally added greenies to the
Economics is certainly one of the reasons.
All Right Magazine:
The quote of the book, as far as I am concerned, is “Change the people you send
to Washington, and you will change the people who lobby them.” Does this mean
term limits, or a more careful examination of character on the part of the
American public, or both?
Rick: I am not a fan of term limits. But, power does funny things to certain people. I remember meeting Randy “Duke” Cunningham
when he first went to Washington. He was a different guy when he checked into
the Federal pen on a corruption conviction.
Would more ethics laws have made what Governor Rod Blagojevich did more unethical?
I think not. We have
plenty of ethics laws. We need more
All Right Magazine: On a related topic, aside from the
suspenseful plot, many readers will notice the clever and astute political
undertones. One of which is a smattering
of references to blown opportunity for the GOP since 1994. There are shots taken at Larry Craig and Jack
Abramoff. What were the worst failures
of this period?
Rick: I am less concerned about the failures of
public figures than I am about the failures of public policy.
I think that we missed several great opportunities. I always use education as my example. Reagan said that as conservatives we should
abolish the Department of Education.
Goldwater pointed out there is no constitutional authority for it. States are better equipped to deal with the
issue. Yet, George Bush’s first big
policy victory was “No Child Left behind.”
We went from “abolish the Federal department and give it
back to the states” to “conservatives can run the education bureaucracy better
than the liberals.”
I think that started the Bush Administration on the wrong
All Right Magazine: Were there any lasting successes?
Freedom in Eastern Europe.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was the greatest accomplishment
of our lifetime. It was a direct result
of the political philosophy of the old Goldwater conservatives as implemented
by President Reagan.
All Right Magazine: The tale of Ann Thompson, the Congressman’s
wife, reminds me of Kitty Dukakis. Was
she a model for that part of the plot?
Is there too much emphasis on the spouse and the family in the public
Rick: I didn’t think of Mrs. Dukakis when writing
the passage, but usually the spouse of the candidate feels the pressure of the
public spotlight more than the candidate.
It’s a helluva ride for the spouse.
The trials and tribulations of Ann Thompson could be a series in and of
All Right Magazine: At one point, Sniper Bid concedes that
the New Dealers had it right when it came to the construction of Kentucky
Lake, which in the 1930s was
heralded as the world’s largest manmade lake.
Do you feel that this agrees with Adam Smith’s assertion that some
public works fall under the proper role of government, or is it merely an exception
to the rule of Big Government?
Rick: (Laughs.) No big overriding policy statement
here. I just love Kentucky
Lake. I’m willing to give in to Adam Smith if it
means I can catch a big ole crappie every not and then.
All Right Magazine: Interlaced throughout your plots are great
political tales from Congresses long ago.
Have you ever considered writing a non-fiction book about the history of
the inner workings of the Capitol?
Rick: To paraphrase Warren Zevon, writers don’t
have a place in their brain for fiction and non-fiction. I like writing fiction where I can throw real
stories into the plot. And sometimes the
legend is more interesting than the facts.
If I were writing non-fiction, I’d have to let those messy facts get in
I am writing a weekly column these days for
www.onenewengland.com where I get to be a little more opinionated. I’m their token conservative, giving red
thoughts in a blue region.
All Right Magazine: Already a trilogy is in the works. Can you give readers a little taste of what
to expect in your next work Manifest Destiny?
Political fiction readers are big on reoccurring characters,
so all of mine continue into another novel entitled Manifest Destiny. In this book political consultant Michael
Griffith is running a campaign in a foreign country when The Mace is stolen
from the House Floor. It’s going to be
fun writing, because I’m going to contrast foreign and U.S.
There will be a chapter where I get to contrast a foreign
rally with Fancy Farm.
All Right Magazine: Finally, where can people pick up a copy of Sniper
Bid, or its prequel The Maximum Contribution?
Rick: Courtesy of the All Right Magazine Shameless
Plug Department, Sniper Bid and The Maximum
Contribution are available at your local book store or can be picked up
on line at www. Amazon.com