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. Todd M

    Right on Senator! The Senator took extreme exaggerations in his statements, but that is not out of proportion by the anger that the public feels over AIG paying bonuses to what most people consider world class criminals.

    Pay back the bonuses. Give us the names. Don't physically harm them, but let's hurt them in the pocketbook if they won't give it back.

    March 17, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  2. colin

    I don't see anything wrong with his comment. He shouldn't have apologized. Why is there such a penalty for brutal honesty? I don't think AIG is in much of a position to call his comments "disappointing." I'm more than a bit "disappointed" by the fact that these SCUM are padding their wallets with millions of dollars while the rest of us are struggling just to get by. AIG's moral indignation surely can't be taken seriously by anybody?

    March 17, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. 228rory

    How come its always Republicans who make these irresponsible blanket statements who then have retract them and apologize? Ohh......I answered my own question. Because they are emotionally unintelligent idiots.

    March 17, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  4. erin

    Of COURSE AIG's spokesperson would call it disappointing

    what a joke....that whole company is a disappointment. capitalism should run it's course and they should NO LONGER BE A COMPANY

    March 17, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  5. D. Sangiovanni

    I agree with his first comment about commit suicide, cause the greed this people have shown is the only cause of the current financial struggle we are facing.

    March 17, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  6. drh

    It's too bad he has to be politically correct. They should, including the AIG PR spokesman, do the honorable thing and commit suicide.

    March 17, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  7. Richard Wentz

    I suppose it's time to update an old joke...
    "What do you call 1000 AIG Financial Products Executives on the bottom of the ocean?"
    A good start.

    March 17, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  8. James Mealy

    Break my heart...disappointing. At the very least, Senator Grassley had the guts to be glib and make a strong statement. The bonuses are symbolic of the hubris and sense of entitlement that permeates the financial system. We need a change of culture similar to the Japanese where leaders take responsibility for the failure of the companies that they lead. "First rule of leadership....everything is your fault." (Hopper, Bugs Life)

    March 17, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  9. Bill Bailey

    I think everybody should have known that the Senator was speaking symbolically out of outrage for the AIG Financial Products Group bonuses.

    March 17, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  10. FutureMD

    Poorly stated, but I agree with the sentiment.

    March 17, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  11. TRUTH

    Had this been a Republican, all of the Liberal re-treads would have been on screaming for his resignation. Just more of the class warfare brought to you from your crooked leaders in the Democrat party

    March 17, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  12. Shelly

    Although I don't think they (AIG executives) should commit suicide, I do agree with Grassley that corporate America should take note that if you fail your company, you shame your family and your country. Take a page from the Japanese executives and show us that you are worthy of forgiveness (and our money) by showing remorse.

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

    I completely and whole heartedly agree with Grassley's initial comments and reasoning's behind them. This whole AIG scandal should have the American people more than outraged at this point. These people are abusing the system for personal gain. Why should we as a people tolerate this hannis display.

    March 17, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  14. Mary - Independent

    The trouble with AIG, is that they do not live in the real world!
    How about a "wake-up call" to these greedy executives and CEO?
    How about firing this CEO and taxing even the 11 employess who
    are gone from AIG, their bonuses?
    How about some action and less talk?

    March 17, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  15. Shari, NY

    Mr. Grassley: Some of these people, I understand, have already collected their loot and left AIG. Now, since I believe that there is an even higher authority that us earthlings, let's leave things up to time. Money does not buy health and happiness. Do you catch my drift?

    March 17, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  16. reality

    his point is well taken. the aig folks apparently feel no sense of responsibility and gladly accept their bonuses for a job poorly done.

    March 17, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  17. Sean

    Now in this case, we all get what Sen Grassley is sayin & we all are annoyed at AIG. But that was a dumb thing to say, and it's making AIG look like it's the moral one....even after they gave out these bonuses with OUR MONEY!!!!

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

    I don't like he saying this as a regulator. But, his intentions of saying that are perfect. AIG folks have no shame. If I was one of the executives, I would give back and apologies. My money is with those employees. If they don't return that my curse remains with them.

    March 17, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  19. Mike

    Our government has not done well for us during the last several decades. Politicians deserve much of the blame too.

    They enabled the destruction of the American middle class, the foundation of our nation. After all they are responsible for allowing the massive transfer of wealth to the rich at the expense of the people. They relaxed regulation, repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, let credit card companies charge usurious interest rates, enabled greed and the short term outlook to reign over the long term, and so forth.

    We have yet to see some deep bows and hear some apology, remorsefulness, contrition from our politicians as well.

    March 17, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  20. Rorschach

    Okay, let 'em fall on the financial sword then.

    Not one of these people's lifestyles is going to be materially affected if they walk away from this empty-handed. They're all filthy rich, more than they can spend in an entire lifetime.

    The notion that they feel ENTITLED – yes, I said entitled, as in "entitlement mentality, someone owes me" to that money, in fact any money at all - after helping drive not just their company, but the world economy into the worst dive since the Great Depression - eclipses any previous definition of "handout".

    Let them walk away empty handed and consider themselves lucky they won't end up homeless. A lot of Americans may face that because of the actions of previously-deified execs in this country.

    If this country doesn't learn to readjust some long-term values from this experience we're just plain stupid. Top to bottom – you're lucky to be here, so stop thinking exclusively about yourself and put something back into the economy that's blessed you.

    March 17, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  21. Thinking

    Post their names and addresses...with faces. I want every American citizen to see their faces, as a matter of public record.
    Maybe tax this money at 99% to somehow get it back.
    What happened to AIG's comment that these superdupers are SO VALUABLE??? How come many are no longer even working there??? And Let's see who they are and who still works at AIG, trying to fix the mess they got us all into.

    March 17, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  22. Grog in Ohio

    Does Senator Grassley's concern about violated trusts only work on Wall Street? What about starting a bogus war? What about the use of torture in the name of American citizens? What about shredding the constitution when it runs counter to convenience?

    I'd suggest that MOST of Washington and ALL of the Republican Party have as much to apologize and take responsibility for as AIG executives.

    March 17, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  23. pete

    so when do they start looking at the business schools that spawned these little monsters? maybe they need to add a few ethics courses at business schools?

    March 17, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  24. george

    Suicide isn't going to get our money back! What would however, is if Obama decided to use Bush's military order number one, naming every recipient of these bonuses an "enemy combatant." Then, they can be stripped of their constitutional rights, and their assets can be seized. I'll bet G.W. would never have expected his wholly deplorable law to be used against like-minded greed-freaks.

    March 17, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  25. GrrlCanada

    He just voiced what I have been wondering for a long time. I think those loser's seppuku crossed my mind and the mind of many other angry people out there. But just like Grassley, it crossed our mind, we weren't going to force them to do it. We just want them to feel shame for what they have done. Where is the shame?

    March 17, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
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