Donald McCarty, the CEO of American Airlines, resigned amid controversy over his hidden management pension plan that was funded even after significant union concesssions. After asking and getting critical concessions from the unions, the management pension stuff surfaced. So he apologized about 50 times in a press conference (well, actually 3 or 4 times) but had to take the bullet.

I’m interested in this story because, well, is the guy a complete moron? Politically, did he really believe that he could talk his way out of this? You pull great concessions from your workers by telling them how tough things are and that “We all have to tighten our belts,” and a day later show them that you lied through your teeth? He justified the darkest nightmares of his workers–that their leaders are the enemy and couldn’t give a crap about them. It wasn’t just politically incorrect, it was blatant political suicide. It was inevitable from the outset that he would have to fall on his sword–it was the only salvageable way out of the situation for the company. If it survives at all, after a one billion dollar loss.