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. Anonymous

    I do agree totally with the comments of Senator from Iowa, it is a shame that we have that kind of greed people in high private institutiones, they shoud return all $163.00 biliones they took from us, the taxi payers, SHAME OF THESE THIEFS......

    March 17, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  2. A little sad

    I'm sorry – that is just disgusting.

    March 17, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  3. Leslie Somerville-Seattle

    Yes, well AIG–you are disappointing. You are a savage corrupt corporation that has abused and taken from the government, and the
    American people for the sake of the almighty buck!!!
    You should be ashamed of yourselves-all of you that have taken, taken and taken more. The adage of the wealthy to succeed and the others get nothing needs to, and will stop. America, and our new President are opening up the "behind door" corruption that might need a good suicide once in a while to show that some of you elite actually have a heart and are consciously aware of the unethical practices you are apart of.
    This country is just plain inadequate and makes me sick to my stomach.

    March 17, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. Justin

    I think that's the most reasonable thing I've heard from a Republican senator in a long time.

    March 17, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  5. B

    Contributions to Obama Campaign Track Bailout Money

    AIG's $43.5 billion in payments to Wall Street banks that gave to the president's election is lost in the ruckus being made over the executive bonuses.

    March 17, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  6. Independent_me

    If a Democrat had said that, Repugs would never let it rest!
    They have a habit of saying the nastiest things and then just casually brushing it off.
    They learn to do this in Public Manipulation 101.

    March 17, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    I am a registered democrat and a long time opponent of large corporations. This man is disgusting. For a person to make light of suicide is not only heartless and cold; it also belies a small mind and lack of education. Suicide is never a joke. If he truly means what he has said, I would suggest he try surviving it first.

    March 17, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  8. Sonny Mobley

    That's one comment from the GOP that I can get onboard with. :sigh: I love the Japanese.

    March 17, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  9. Will-South Dakota

    They got the money!! CONGRESS showed them the money, they took and left. 1 million dollars is alot to spend so why suicide? they left on vacations laughing their heads....bamboozled Congress again.

    March 17, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  10. Mark

    Just remember, it is not just AIG's fault. The blame must be equally given to the politicians who gave them the money not once but multiple times.

    March 17, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. Sherry

    I actually agree with the Senator - those AIG execs found a loophole and crawled right through it!

    March 17, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  12. john

    Enough with the partisan comments. This isn't a Dem vs. Repub. issue. It's about how the entire govt. should be helping and looking out for the taxpayer especially when it involves gross mismanagement by large corporations being bailed out. Stop the attacks and focus on the problem at hand no matter what party you support.

    March 17, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  13. Aaron

    This from the so-called "pro-life" party.

    March 17, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  14. Brian Crooks

    If he backpedals any faster he's gonna moonwalk across the senate floor. You would think he offended Rush Limbaugh or something.

    March 17, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. Darlene in California

    In the unprecedented wave of financially-ruined/pension-stolen-despondent suicides our nation is experiencing in the wake of bi-partisan corporate greed, it amazes me that the individuals who have lost their future security to the bizarre excesses of executives do not first "take out" those responsible for this legalized theft before taking their own lives. I don't condone it at all, I'm just surprised it hasn't happened yet. I fear it is only a matter of time before web sites will post names and pictures of these executives and their checker-pants attorneys, who squandered their employees futures with their gambling mentality, stole the livelihood of their employees with their outrageous elitist mentality and then brazenly robbed the national public to pay the price of their sins. Vigilantes will rise up to exact their revenge if national leaders are too fearful of the good opinion of such dubious executives above the principles of upholding justice as they were elected to do. I'm bracing myself for the backlash.

    March 17, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  16. Wordsmith

    Over the past year and a half, I've had to cope with the suicides of two acquaintances. I watched how the lives of the families and friends of those who left them were ripped apart. The pain is unbearable to witness. Sometimes the line between hope and despair is very thin. The senator needs to use better judgment when choosing his words.

    March 17, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. J.Crobuzon

    Should he apologize or commit suicide? It's the Japanese way . . .

    March 17, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  18. Patrick - Indianapolis

    As a left leaning person, I would just like to say that I agree. If these guys have any dignity left they should commit suicide. Sure worked wonders for Japan. This, again, is not a party issue. Don't cut the guy down for saying what we are all thinking. There are PLENTY of good reasons to slam the GOP, but this is not one of them.

    March 17, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  19. Pat Dunedin Fl

    Maybe this would be good advice for the GOP, they only know
    the word NO!NO!. This comment again makes the Gop look
    weak, Doesn't the GOP believe in Life No Matter What or only
    when it suits them. Perhaps the Senator needs some spiritual
    counseling!!!!!! YES!

    March 17, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  20. cesar

    It is called honor. Somthing a lot of people do not have these days.

    March 17, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  21. Chuck

    When we as Americans understand that if we, in this industrialized and tech society leave it up to the business managers/executives to do what is honorable without regulation and oversight, they will do the opposite and be greedy without regard for the citizens at-large. Note the 1929 depression and now 80 years later, the 2009 financial meltdown.

    March 17, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  22. jaye

    All this hysteria is just plain stupid!!
    Bunch of Nitwits.

    March 17, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  23. Stan

    Be fair, Congress spends the money they do because Americans have been dumb enough to demand it. The approval rating for the bailout was over 50%. We have the government we have because that's what we vote for and that's what we collectively deserve. Never forget, we have the best politicians money can buy!

    March 17, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. Jim

    Interesting! Is he prepared to take responsibility on behalf of his party for the economic mismanagement of the last eight years? Would AIG have been able to profit from dubious financial instruments if the party in charge hadn't abrogated its responsibility to regulate the financial sector due to its laissez-faire fanaticism? Why doesn't he "resign or commit suicide"?

    The problem with this country is that pretty much everyone in it wants as much pleasure/power/wealth/whatever for themselves as possible and screw morality and the common good. It's not a problem that's limited to AIG executives and politicians, and until we solve it this country will continue to decline.

    March 17, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  25. Darko

    No issues w/ what the senator said. Japanese banks are considered institutions of trust, loyalty and national pride and the consequences for abusing the trust of the public is the worse kind of shame.

    Unfortunately, American banks aren't revered, nd the people running the banks can get away with financial murder in terms of looting the taxpayers and this has been going on for years. Greed is so prevelent on Wall Street, it's the way of life. Take what you can and screw the other guy. That is American Capitalism.

    March 17, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
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