Posted by Bob on September 10, 2004
In Reply to: 'the gang that can't shoot straight' posted by Lexi on September 10, 2004
: : : : In an email exchange I compared United Airlines in the States, to 'the gang that can't shoot straight'. Seems that everything they do is a real mess and they can't get their act together.
: : : : This is a phrase in the US that seems to me to have had a movie origin. But it may go back further than that? Anybody know?
: : : I am away from my library. But I'll bet the phrase is in Safire's Political Dictionary. Wasn't it the Nixon Administration that earned that designation?
: : Jimmy Breslin's novel, "The Gang that couldn't shoot straight," , was a caricature of a New York mob family. Breslin is an old hand at the New York scene (as Americans might say), and his novel was a success with reviewers and most readers, who found it funny (full of humour), except, of course, spokesmen for Italian-American groups, whose sacred duty it is not to have a sense of humor. Breslin has been a columnist for several New York City newspapers, currently Newsday, and author of several books, including a biography of Damon Runyon. In past years his column has often affected a sort of brusque, earthy tone, almost anti-intellectual, a sort of Damon Runyon with bite. He has mellowed, although you wouldn't notice it when he writes about politics. SS
: This has really become a much used part of the language in the States. Google has a ton of examples of its' use for everything from city governments to Rumsfelds Defense Department to Kerrys Election Campaign staff. Whenever an organization seems to be muddled, ineffective, and get in its own way, this term applies. It seems not to have caught on eleswhere in the English speaking world.
Breslin's book is a great read, by the way, if it's still in print. I remember it fondly.