A reader asks via MSN: "What are you writing about today? More about the 'wheel'?"
Actually I have been gathering materials in reply to a reader question on the phrase "word of mouth," but then, I thought, why not? I may just as well go on wheeling and dealing.
So here I am, explaining another term pertaining to the wheel. This time it's the American idiom wheel and deal.
The way the "wheel" and the "deal" rhymes gives a hint to at action, doesn't it? Yes, that's right. Wheeling and dealing implies a lot of running around (imagine a running wheel) and perhaps a lot of deal-making (imagine many business negotiations) going on as well.
Longman gives this definition on "wheel and deal": to do a lot of complicated and sometimes slightly dishonest deals, especially in politics or business.
Well, business deals being "slightly dishonest" is perhaps something taken for granted, especially deals in which politicians, bankers, stock market brokers and mutual fund dealers congregate - the Enron scandal (Google it) springs to mind - but that may perhaps be mere prejudice. The term can be neutral, neither good nor bad. To be wheeling and dealing, one may just be doing a lot of work, attempting to get lots of jobs done, with or without deals (contracts) to cut (negotiate) and to ink (sign).
Then again, the phrase does work better with a hint to deals, hopefully all honest, in the making. Two weeks ago, for example, Chinese basketball star Yi Jianlian was drafted (selected) sixth overall to play for the Milwaukee Bucks. But Yi's not happy. Other teams are still coveting his services. Hence there's been a lot of speculation (rumors) about teams (Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, etc.) wheeling and dealing in an attempt to get Yi through a trade with the Bucks, who have said they won't budge.
Now, here are two examples culled from reports over the scandals of Enron, the aforementioned energy firm that went bankrupt in 2001.
First, from Enron and Bill Clinton (February 28, 2002, newsmax.com):
Russia was not the only target of Enron wheeling-and-dealing with the Clinton administration. Enron execs traveled on a profitable trade trip to India with Ron Brown, landing a major contract for a power plant. The India power plant deal later fell apart with allegations of illegal payments and bribery.
Second, from An Insider's Tale of Enron's Toxic Culture (March 31, 2003, Businessweek.com):
In hitting the highlights of the sprawling Enron saga, the book sometimes seems disjointed. And it occasionally gets bogged down in explanations of the complex accounting. There also are big gaps in the tale, leaving plenty of fodder for future Enron books. The company's manipulation of the California energy markets, for instance, gets short shrift, as does its wheeling and dealing in Washington.
But unlike several other Enron accounts published so far, this one has a true Enron insider in Watkins, an eight-year veteran, and it takes full advantage. (Brian Cruver, author of Anatomy of Greed, was with the company for only eight months.) As Enron enters its death throes in late 2001, Watkins has a front-row seat to the denial and timidity in Enron's executive suite.
Word of mouth? Next.