Rick Wagoner is finally out of the hot seat.
After years of being the guy sitting in the chair perched over the pool of water as people threw baseballs at the trigger to dump him in, he has resigned as Chairman and CEO of General Motors.
A statement said he was leaving at the request of U.S. President Barack Obama's administration.
You can read into that that further government support to the company was contingent on him stepping down.
It's a shame in a lot of ways.
I have had the pleasure of interviewing Wagoner on a number of occasions over the years, and he is one of the nicest guys in the business.
He had an amazing memory for names and facts, and a pretty good grasp on what the industry needed to recover and prosper.
He wasn't a 'car guy' in the traditional sense - his specialty was finance, ironically. But he made a point of hiring car guys like Bob Lutz, and giving them the freedom to develop the products with the design, technology, value and quality the market wanted.
The fact that the Chevrolet Volt, due late next year if the company survives that long, appears to be the most logical way to introduce electric cars to our market, and that Buick ranked at the very top of the J. D. Power list for quality a couple of weeks ago, are indications the company was on the right track.
But GM - and to a somewhat lesser extent Ford and Chrysler - couldn't overcome the legacy cost issue that has bedevilled them for decades, a problem created by the U.S. government's systemic failure to bring that country into the 20th century, let alone 21st: it remains the only major industrialized nation to tie pension and medical benefits to the company you work for, rather than the society you live in.
This gives major advantages to 'new' entries to the economy, just as it did when the same issue decimated the U.S.-based airline industry in the 1970s. Younger workers in newer companies will work for lower wages, and don't care about titanium hips.
So let's toss the older workers, the ones who built the society the newer companies now benefit from, on the scrap heap of history and carry on.
GM and the other domestics have managed to extract major concessions from their unions - forcing everyone to renege on deals that were made if not in good faith, then at least by the collective bargaining rules that existed at the time (reminds me of that classic line from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" - "Rules? In a knife fight?")
But it wasn't enough.
This was a knife fight.
And Rick Wagoner has lost.