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. JA/TN

    no, they should be flogged by the general public, greed driven bloodsuckers is the description

    March 17, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  2. RobK

    It was a dumb comment that I am sure Sen. Grassley regrets. Just apologize and get on with your job. This self-righteous anger is humorous. Congress should have put rules in place BEFORE they gave out the money. Trying to get it back with a special tax rule is stupid. The tax code is too complex as it is. Trying to single out the employees of single company through the tax code is idiotic.

    March 17, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  3. obama lied

    I'm ashamed of you. Republicians do not need to be saying crap like this. Why don't you try to act like a grownup and leave this kind of stuff to the democrats.......who do it so well.

    March 17, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  4. Jerry

    Nothing has changed; Obama and Congress are permitting and encouraging white collar crime at the expense of the economy.

    March 17, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  5. Jacqueline

    This is absolutely the most disgusting insensitive said by someone in public office. We have had men losing their jobs and killing their families and then commiting suicide. Who wins? Suicide is never an answer which is one thing we criticize the Chinese for. Suicide is for a coward and this statement should be apologized for, especially for all of the families that have lost someone due to this. SHAME ON YOU!

    March 17, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  6. Misty Vukotich

    What an evil and disgusting comment. Would Grassley want someone to say the same thing about him?

    March 17, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  7. Dean Harris

    As soon as I read his comments, I KNEW there would be a backlash against it. Really, people?!?! Our country is oversensitive to the point that we are weaklings.

    Get over it if you agree that his comments were outrageous. Whatever happened to this country that we all used to love? It's full of politically correct whiners, lawsuits for just about everything, the morbidly obese and slackers in general. The ones who do work hard see their jobs go over seas with outsourcing.

    You're watching a once great country slip and fall. Especially when someone really has to prod further into the comments of suicide. Of course he doesn't want to see that. Too much "journalism" and not enough real news to report evidently.

    March 17, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  8. Dana

    If what Senator Grassley said was "very disappointing", what can the quoted AIG spokesman say about the antics of his own company?!?! The leadership of this corporation, as well as all others like them, SHOULD back down in shame, but these people are much too selfish, egocentric and short-sighted to know they've done wrong – as long as their bank accounts are fuller than they need to be, and they glut on much more than is needed while others struggle, that's all that matters. I say back at them to their behavior, very, VERY disappointing!

    March 17, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  9. Davis and Davis

    speaking of running business in the ground..........look at what George W Bush did to every business he ran up to and include the business of the USA. Where were all the big talking Republicans when Bush was spending money like a crazed loon on a war that never should have been? It seems as though now, when they are no longer in the drivers seat they have all the answers. WOW!!!! what a shame you didn't do something about it the last 8 years. Maybe the Republican Party along with George W Bush, Cheney, Limbaugh, Coulter, Fox News and the rest of the gang should hang themselves beside AIG.

    March 17, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  10. Strange

    Doesn't it contradict something about the Republicans?
    Do they really value life?

    Does he really value life, and is he a Christian?

    How can he say to someone "Commit suicide" if he values life and believes in Christian values?

    I guess.... it is okay to let people die in wars or commit suicide... but we must protect the unborn.

    There are words you can say and should not say. Even if you are angry, there are words you should not say.

    March 17, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  11. JL

    I'm an Independent, and I usually don't agree with harsh statements of any type – they tend to be counterproductive. But I can't seem to get uspet about Senator Grassley's comments. In fact, I think he summed up the anger that people are feeling very nicely. As for AIG saying it was "very disappointing", pot meet kettle. Maybe they should think about what he's expressing to them.

    March 17, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  12. Alex Liu

    After learning the fact that some of the AIG people who received the bonus and left the company promptly, I do not think this comment is inappropriate.

    What if AIG did not receive taxpayers' money? Does AIG have the money to give as bonus? It is a shameful act, and it hurts so many Americans who are the victims of this economic crisis. They are at fault of this crisis but they are paying for it in a great deal.

    I am absolutely positive that none of the AIG employees will commit suicide. Senator Grassley's comment carried no weight what so ever. However, it shows how helpless the system is.

    I still can recall the days when the country was debating whether the government should grant $700 Billion to rescue the financial institutions. It sounded like if they did not get what they wanted, tomorrow would be the end of the world. Now it seems we are all so silly and naive.

    March 17, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  13. EDDIE

    Typical repub,even though they say it they don't mean it.

    March 17, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  14. CJ

    And when are we going to hear the apologies from members of congress for running this country into the ground?

    March 17, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  15. TheLorax

    These exectives have no shame. They should in the streets begging for forgiveness. They failed their shareholders, they betrayed their country. You know what the punishment for treason is? Death. I can just imagine them after getting fired driving back to their posh apartments and depositing their million dollars and just laughing smugly at poor dopes like us who have to work for a living.

    March 17, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  16. Rudy Melchor

    Tel the AIG spokesman to shut up.

    March 17, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  17. Charles Norrell

    I hope my tax dollars are not going to help AIG. I fell totally ripped off by AIG. The company executives truly believe they have done no wrong.

    At least Madoff admitted his wrong doing and apologized. One vote for Madoff. Zero votes for coporate america.

    March 17, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  18. li in PA

    People try to paint Wall Street as a Republican bastion. They aren't Bernie Madoff is a HUGE contributor to the democratic party and so are most of the top execs at the banks. Check it out for yourselves.

    March 17, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. mw

    Tax them, sue them, or jail them. This is an outrage.

    March 17, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. Pete

    Finally, some senator has the brain to say something like this which is good. If every senator do their job like this, then everyone will be happy.

    March 17, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. John T

    Grassley said it well.

    March 17, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  22. Dennis Smith

    thank you Sen. Grassley!

    March 17, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  23. HSNP

    Suicide would be too honorable an end for these villians. Life in prison would be preferable.

    March 17, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  24. patriot

    And this guy's a Republican? Must've been shorted by his big business buds and now he wants payback.

    March 17, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. cnnnewser

    These crazy republicans.....
    When will their idiotic reign of terror end?

    March 17, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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