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Frank Rich: C.E.O. Guillotine Won't Do Any Good

First Posted: 05/06/09 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 02:10 PM ET

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EVEN among pitchfork-bearing populists, there was scant satisfaction when the White House sent the C.E.O. of General Motors to the guillotine.

Sure, Rick Wagoner deserved his fate. He did too little too late to save an iconic American institution from devolving into a government charity case. He embraced the Hummer. G.M.'s share price fell from above $70 to under $3 on his watch. Yet few disputed the judgment of the Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm, that Wagoner was a "sacrificial lamb," a symbolic concession to public rage ordered by a president who had to look tough after being blindsided by the A.I.G. bonuses. Detroit's chief executive had to be beheaded so that the masters of the universe at the top of Wall Street's bailed-out behemoths might survive.

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Filed by Rachel Weiner  |