To Irony and Back


Opinions, please: Is irony coming back, or going out?

Until last week, I had thought the phrase "winning hearts and minds" could never again be used in any but a smart-aleck sense (e.g., the once-popular service wisecrack, "Grab 'em by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow"). Now it's all over the place. Ditto the "Mother of All Battles." All these years the closest anybody's gotten to a serious iteration of that expression was stuff like "Come on down to the Mother of All Presidents Day sales!" Now Saddam (never a very dry wit) has given the Mother of All Battles Medal to his suicide-bomber NCO.

On the other hand, I haven't heard anybody use the phrase "Shock and Awe" without scare quotes (as opposed to the regular quotes I just used), since the first time it was uttered. I'm figuring it's about two weeks before you hear, "I'm shocked and awed by the low prices at Nobody Beats the Wiz!" And what of "embedding?" Even when people use that expression in its current straight sense they make funny little harrumphing noises. It would take the discipline of an anchorman to say "embedded" with a straight face. And forget about "decapitation." Where do any of these phrases fit on the Ironic/No Longer Ironic continuum?

And is there a Tomahawk equivalent of a Scud Stud?