March 17th, 2009
05:21 PM ET
2 years ago

Senator stands by 'suicide comment,' says it was rhetorical

Grassley said he was speaking rhetorically when he said AIG executives 'resign or commit suicide.'
Grassley said he was speaking rhetorically when he said AIG executives 'resign or commit suicide.'

(CNN) – Sen. Charles Grassley is standing by his earlier comments suggesting some embattled AIG executives should "resign or commit suicide," but told CNN Tuesday he was merely speaking rhetorically.

"Of course I don't want people to commit suicide," the Iowa Republican said. "But I do want an attitude in corporate American that's similar to what they have in corporate Japan.

"[In Japan], people that run a corporation into a ground have violated their trust with the stockholders and maybe even the taxpayers - they take a very deep bow, they apologize, they are remorseful, they are contrite, they take full responsibility," he added. "We have not heard the sort of apology, remorsefulness, contrition, that we ought to hear from corporate executives in America assuming full responsibility."

Grassley's initial comments came Monday afternoon during an interview with Iowa radio station WMT. During the interview, Grassley endorsed what he viewed as Japan's corporate model, saying it is customary for failed executives to either relinquish their posts or commit suicide in disgrace.

"In the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology," he said during that interview.

A spokesman for AIG called Grassley's initial comments "very disappointing."


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soundoff (159 Responses)
  1. Notsurprised

    Party of "family values", eh?

    March 17, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  2. youngster

    Not just AIG, but the CEOs and board members of all failing banks that survived due to govt intervention should bow down and apologize, then they should all be stripped of their belongings, to be given out to shareholders.

    March 17, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  3. QLee

    So, the AIG spokesperson called the Senator's comments "very disappointing.'!!!! Well, the AIG spokesperson doesn't want to know what I call AIG employees. The senator said it all. There has been no apology and, if anything, the people who helped cause this mess are getting a bonus! Go figure. AIG is a despicable company with descipable employees! Someday they will have to answer to someone more powerful than anyone on earth. That's when they will get theirs.

    March 17, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  4. susanj

    For once – I agree with a Republican.

    March 17, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  5. yuri

    Or he could 've wished they handcuffed, turned themselves in and asked for life sentence without a trial. IF they want a trial they would be glad to come forward and foot the bill for legal expenses.

    March 17, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. TRUTH

    AIG takes on billions in investments, then we pick up the bill. Obama's pal Robert Rubin helps drive Citigroup's value down 70%, and we pick up the tab. American car companies drive their businesses into the ditch, and Obama says we've got to bail them out.

    But we send an American soldier to kill some Al Qaeda lunatic in Fallujah and help keep our country safe, and President Obama won't pay the bill if he gets hurt? Suddenly President Obama has found a buck he's willing to pass? Now he's willing to push the burden onto someone else?

    Obama will pay off the dirtbags and AIG and his buddies on Wall Street. But when it comes to the men and women who fight and die for us, Obama's answer is..."Not so much."

    March 17, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  7. Peggy from IA

    Thank you Mr. Grassley for not backing down. You are absolutely right about this. They have not humbled themselves whatsoever. You make me proud. PS: Who cares what any AIG spokesperson says but "very disappointed". Come on! You want to talk about very disappointing? I wouldn't think so.

    March 17, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  8. Paul

    I'm a Democrat, but I have to agree with the Senator on this one. CEOs who manager companies well should be rewarded, but CEOs who hurt their stockholders should be held accountable. Giving million-dollar bonuses as a reward for failure is a crime, and I don't think his suicide comment is out-of-bounds, because if I was one of these CEOs, I don't know how I could live with myself.

    March 17, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  9. Simpliticus

    What is the difference between what AIG is doing with its performance bonuses and a hit-man who gets paid for his work? Both seem to be bringing down the system one way or another!

    March 17, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  10. BeanerECMO

    We don't hear any apologies from members of congress or the media for their ineptitude; why should anyone in corporate America apologize for their actions?

    March 17, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  11. Amazed & appalled

    I am appalled and amazed to see anyone recommend either resignation or suicide of the company execs. Most of the execs that created this problem are gone – and to treat life as this unimportant is offensive. So much for family values...or Christian charity from the Republicans.

    March 17, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  12. Big Ed

    I don't necessarily agree with the suicide portion of the ststement, but I completely agree with the spirit in which the comment was made. The AIG executives should accept the consequenses for their actions!

    March 17, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  13. Reg

    I full support Grassley in his comments

    March 17, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  14. Fred

    The man needs to be censured for his choice of words. I don't care how mad he is on behalf of his consituents. As if no one in congress has committed acts that were wrong? People get arrested for using those words against a congressman.

    March 17, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. Greedy CEOs of America

    Grassleys comment is way out of line, those executives at AIG earned those bonuses because capital is capital as far as the private sector is concerned. The way I look at it the government owed AIG the 160 billion.

    March 17, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  16. tcentral

    I support your idea, Mr Grassley.

    March 17, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  17. BT in CO

    Yes, Senator! Let's have such an attitude in Congress, as well!

    March 17, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  18. Bill Daly

    Every sane person realizes that the Senator's suicide comment was for dramatic effect. His concern re lack of contrition or a sense of rersponsibility is dead on. In the miliotary, they would receive a dishonorable discharge and jail time, not a bonus.

    March 17, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  19. Chris

    how do they make a contrite apology, "after" they commit suicide?

    March 17, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  20. William Wirt

    Big Deal - Who cares if they kill themselves - the didn't care about millions of us that have lost our life savings... and if they killed themselves or their families.

    March 17, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  21. Beau

    I am outraged that these senators and congressmen are babbling about AIG. They took our money and have squandered over $1 trillion dollars, and we are supposed to be upset about $165million spread over 70 employees? I think this senator should commit suicide or resign!

    March 17, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  22. EVOLVE

    ANOTHER REPUBLICAN MISS SPEAKING!!! GREAT

    March 17, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  23. meron

    Forget about his comment, Aig should return the bonus they got. Obama adminstration should put his foot and tell AIG to return the money right now. The money is not for AIG to finance their lavish life style. People losing their job lef and right.

    March 17, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  24. Kim

    I agree with his statement and I am a democrat. Good for you senator, you just said what we all were thinking.

    March 17, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  25. Madoff?

    I don't think these execs that have behaved soooo badly need to be exempt from this suggestion

    they just ruined people's lives, took money from tax payers and gave it to overseas banks and their own execs

    I just think the senator is on to something

    March 17, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
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