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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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."

Filed under: Charles Grassley • Popular Posts
soundoff (159 Responses)
  1. Pepou

    If they had one ounce of pride they would give back the money. By not doing so they actually commit suicide.

    March 17, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. republican

    Although I agree with Grassley on the resignation comment, the suicide comment was extremely harsh.

    And let the Republican bashing begin..

    March 17, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. Ray Fisher

    Hopefully, he meant professional suicide and not physical but there certainly should be some perp-walks of the executives responsible for our economic meltdown. There is absolutely no way our nation crumbled without widespread malfeasance!!!

    March 17, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. AnnMM

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

    They – Just – Don't – Get – It !

    How can you become so megalomaniacal that you no longer have the ability to feel shame? Does it actually require selling your soul? or can you just loan it out for public appearances?

    March 17, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. Mari

    WHY is anyone surprised that this comment came from a GOPer?????

    The GOP continues with its vile comments and attitude.

    They are self-destructing!

    March 17, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. Sunny H

    Well, they heard him. They are jumping ship like rats off a sinking boat.

    March 17, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  7. Debby, NJ...foot soldier 'til 2016

    The Got No Plan Party always putting their foot in their mouths, and always trying to clean it up later. The MSM of course are not all over this. If this had been a Democrat it would be all over the MSM.

    March 17, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  8. obama-mama

    I wouldn't dial anything back. They need to be told. These slobs are just amazing.

    March 17, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  9. CF

    The Republican party really is in a mess.

    March 17, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  10. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I think that Grassley is confusing greed that these "bankers" had and ambition that many of these Japanese he's thinking of had. Those Japanese that he is thinking of most likely knew they had made a mistake and were willing to make an appology. Many of these "bankers" are willing to say that they made a mistake and own up to it. I just wish they would and understand the problem that they help create.

    March 17, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  11. Cindy

    How stereotypical of you Senator Grassley. I don't want to see anybody commit suicide. Not even the Japanese. There is no honor in taking your life.

    March 17, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  12. California Gold

    Probably a bad choice of words, but succinctly got the point across, namely about having, or not having as the case may be, personal integrity, a sense of shame and that rare quality: Honor. Clearly AIG executives lack those qualities.

    March 17, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  13. Ralph

    No problem to me if the criminal scum tsenior managers at AIG decide to leave the planet. They have idea between right and wrong; they have no morals. Take away the bonus money and let them sue to get it back. It would be interesting to hear what they have to say under oath, how they drove a formerly good company into the ground.

    March 17, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  14. Boisepoet

    Excuse me Senator, but your party provided these greedy sob's the political cover and means (through deregulation, lack of oversight, tax policy and no bid contracts) they needed to rape American taxpayers and shareholders, and now you want to act shocked that corporate CEO's are actually, you know, greedy and selfish?

    Yet another in the long list of Republican hypocrisy.

    March 17, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  15. Truth

    I think that he should have let the comment stand. The inference was all about "honor". I'm sure that the meaning was lost on the AIG executives, who have no clue when it comes to honor, integrity, concience, morals, etc., etc., etc.

    March 17, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. Joe

    Hey, I'm a democrat, but I agree with this guy!

    March 17, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  17. Pee Wee

    Dear Chuck,

    Please focus your sentiments inwards. Perhaps Congress should set the example and be the FIRST to do what you suggest.

    Just kidding.......

    March 17, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  18. Debbie

    Sen. Grassley has expressed what many of us are thinking and feeling. So why is it so hard for our gov't to take steps to stop this abuse.

    March 17, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  19. The Melonhead

    There has been an AMAZING lack of leadership coming from our business leaders regarding this economic crisis. No CEO takes responsibility. No CEO has a plan for recovery. In fact, they blame the government for not regulating them strictly enough!!!!!

    During the good times, these CEOs have their marketing agencies put out advertisements touting their "Excellence" and their devotion to their customers. They brag about themselves shamelessly – during the good times.

    After they have run our economy off a cliff, they simply go into their penthouse offices and quietly close the door.

    March 17, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  20. Pam for America & Obama

    It does not need to be suicide but they could show a little remorse and at least say thank you to the American people.
    However suicide and leaving the estates to the people who lost everything is not such a bad idea!

    March 17, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  21. Yuko

    What do you expect from a culture that says 'Greed is good.' and that condoned torture?

    March 17, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  22. Todd

    And we won't hear that type of appology from ANYONE in the United States! Period!!

    We are a country that has no morals, has no sense of responsibility, etc. All we are ever going to hear is how it was someone else's fault, someone else's problem, etc, etc.

    And before you Libs jump in to how this is Bush's fault and the Democrats would never do anything like that – Each and Every one of you posted last week that this is NOT Obama's economic problem!!

    March 17, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  23. Peace

    After a long time I have heard a republican succinctly express sensible thought in economic matter.

    March 17, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  24. Patrick

    Smartest thing any republican has said in recent memory.....

    March 17, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  25. Honestlady

    "AIG executives should "resign or commit suicide,"

    I'm sorry but this comment is hilarious. I burst out laughing everytime i read it.

    March 17, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
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