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. MaryanneAZ

    What an idiotic statement to make. These guys are so accustomed to sounding off with soundbytes and zingers on the floor that they forget that the public's reaction to their words can be a career buster. Talk about out of touch with the real world.

    March 17, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. Roony

    Suicide is a sin!
    Republicans have no respect for life and no sense of charity.

    March 17, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  3. Soccer mom from Manhattan

    I agree! These people should feel dishonored and dishonorable. No one expects the jerks to literally commit suicide but figuratively, they could do us all a favor by jumping off of the highest cliff or in other words go far away quietly and penniless.

    March 17, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  4. The Truth

    Many executives in Japan who have been caught up in corruption really DO commit suicide!!!! I think he meant to say what he did!

    March 17, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  5. RH

    Apologise for what? Being snivelling crooks? That's the free market ideal – do whatever it takes to achieve 'personal success,' including standing on the throats of others. What, is there no more stomach for the 'market,' the dream of an amoral financial paradise?

    Amorality is nothing but a packaged version of immorality.

    There are only owners and workers, people.

    March 17, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  6. Bart


    March 17, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  7. Beth

    He's right!! While the rest of us are suffering and trying to feed our kids, these greedy people are not even offering an apology! They should take his advice! Thank you Senator for looking our for the rest of us!!!

    March 17, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. what's the name of that disappointed AIG spokesperson?

    where does that mouthpiece for the den of thieves live?

    what are his or her children's names and which school do they go to?

    i want to give them a piece of my mind!

    not surprising to hear

    the thieves mouthing off so arrogantly and condescendingly

    to the reps of the people

    from whom they have stolen left and right!

    March 17, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. jeff in MA

    He's right in saying this, but this implies that any member of AIG has the ability to feel shame or has a sense of honor to begin with, which it seems they don't by their actions, just lots and lots of selfishness.

    March 17, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. Lisa B

    It appears from the AIG's spokesperson's comment that THEY STILL DON'T GET IT.

    March 17, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. Mickie

    Gee, would this plan work for the republicans who got us into this mess in the first place?

    March 17, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  12. The Broker.

    So? America. A "Credit Union" is not a Bank? I thought that was where Banks originated.

    March 17, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  13. Ron - Saint Louis

    I understand the context of the Senator's comments and do agree. Those receiving these bonuses, despite a company that lost $64,000,000,000 in the last quarter feel "entitled" to this money.

    However, companies need to be smarter in the future on how they write contracts to ensure they are not obligated to make bonus payments when the company post losses or receives government or other types of "survival" funding.

    March 17, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  14. jaye

    The republicans are disgracing our country...right along with the talking head pundits and republican backed news shows.
    Shame on all of them.

    March 17, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  15. Martin

    Good for you Charles...and I'm a democrat.....

    March 17, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  16. brawnup

    I can't belive this politics! This is amazing what to do here. In this day-and-age.

    March 17, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  17. Paul, Seattle

    Yeah, he probably took it to far.

    March 17, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  18. Mel

    The AIG exec can call it "disappointing" all he wants, but the Senator is still right.

    March 17, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  19. Miriam

    The spokesman for AIG is a total moron! How disappointing?! is that it???!! What about taking responsibility for all the ruined lives AIG left behind, should the public just be "disappointed?" Outrage is more like it. These guys have no clue about humanity! They are a disservice to the people and should NOT be helped at all, period!

    March 17, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  20. rudy

    Was it a politically incorrect comment...yes. Was it a very well timed comment...yes as well. Execs don't give a crap about the average person or tax payers. It's all about money, making money for themselves, shareholders and the company. The problem is even if they fail at making money for the shareholders or the company, they still make a lot of money for themselves. Pay for Failure is rampant in corporate America and until someone holds these execs responsible the every day workers are the ones that suffer in terms of layoffs as employees and poor customer service as consumers. Is one person really worth 5 to 50 million dollars to a company?

    March 17, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  21. chuck

    Please Mr.Senator mean what you say and don't say what you do not mean. I'm tired of these Republicans Senators saying things and then restructuring what was said. Be brave when you open your mouths before the mike.

    March 17, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  22. drahcir61

    Senator, make no apologies. I'd rather see a scumbag AIG executive commit suicide than someone who lost their job, lost their house, or lost their 401k because they were so depressed due to the economy.

    AIG execs & others like them are crooks who feel they have no moral obligation to society ... they should pay a very steep price, one way or another, for their crimes.

    March 17, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |

    For all of the arrogance of the AIG folks, apparently they are not well versed in history. The French Revolution keeps coming into my mind.

    March 17, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  24. Michelle

    For once, I fully agree with a Republican!

    These jerks at AIG and all the other corporate loser who have wasted and/or lost tons of other people's money need to get their heads on straight and realize what they have done. They have totally lost the respect of most of the public - and it is the public that they really are dependent on. They are not gods and they cannot get away with this kind of reckless and sociopathic behavior!

    March 17, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  25. Recall

    Washington needs to let all these companies sink! This bailout money should go to the folks back at home. The taxpayers need a bailout not these executives.

    With bailouts to the taxpayers back at home, they can payoff their mortgages and credit cards. The Banks will be bailout and crying for people to lend to. This time it s the taxpayer, folks back home who will are relieved. Big business needs to be accountable and so does Washington.
    Obama, you won under the platform of Change! What Change? It is business as usual. It has changed to that you are have four years to do your thing . If nothing changes in that time then there will be someone else that goes to the White House in 2012 not you! That is change!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 17, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
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