Philip Terzian

Philip Terzian is literary editor of The Weekly Standard. A native of the Washington, DC, area and a journalist for over 40 years, he has been a writer and editor at Reuters, newspapers in Alabama and Kentucky, the New Republic, the Los Angeles Times, and was editorial page editor of the Providence Journal. For 20 years he wrote a political/foreign affairs column syndicated by the Scripps Howard News Service. During 1978-79 he was speechwriter for Secretary of State Cyrus Vance.

Terzian has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary, Pulitzer juror, media fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, traveling fellow of the American Journalism Foundation, and is a member of the American Council on Germany. He is a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the New Criterion, the Times Literary Supplement, Sewanee Review, and other publications. In 2010 Encounter Books published his book Architects of Power: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and the American Century.

Stories by Philip Terzian

Obama as Enabler

The president doesn't acknowledge the Armenian genocide.
1:45 PM, Apr 24, 2012

Connoisseurs of tea leaves will note that President Obama, in his statement today on Armenian Remembrance Day, was very careful to avoid use of the word "genocide" in describing the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks during the First World War.

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Dick Clark, 1929-2012

4:25 PM, Apr 18, 2012

Rock 'n' roll may be here to stay, but the impresarios who brought it to us are only human. Bill Graham of Fillmore fame was killed in a helicopter crash in 1991. The two Dons, Kirshner of Don Kirshner's Rock Concert and Cornelius of Soul Train, died recently in their mid-seventies. Now, the “World's Oldest Teenager,” Dick Clark, has ceased being the world's oldest teenager, aged 82.

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High Culture’s Paladin

Hilton Kramer, 1928-2012.
Apr 09, 2012

It would be tempting to describe Hilton Kramer, who died last week at 84, as the last of his breed, his kind: the cultural mandarin who, perched near the top of the totem pole, issued pronouncements on arts and letters with the confidence and erudition of, say, an Edmund Wilson or John Ruskin.

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The Ghosts of Washington

Philip Terzian, ghost hunter
Mar 19, 2012

Living in Los Angeles many years ago, I used occasionally to wonder about the people I would see on the sidewalk, at the art museum, in a restaurant. You got accustomed to seeing recognizable faces at random—Vincent Price in a frame shop, Mary Astor at the Motion Picture Home. But what about the chorus girls in Busby Berkeley musicals, or the endless supply of fedora-hatted cops in noir films? All those episodes of Gunsmoke and Perry Mason and Alfred Hitchcock Presents; surely the matronly woman ordering a martini was Keenan Wynn’s love interest in an episode of The Twilight Zone?

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Where's the Outrage?

5:50 PM, Feb 23, 2012

Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times is sad that the transitional government in Egypt is putting 16 American citizens on trial for promoting democracy in Egypt. David Ignatius of the Washington Post is worried that the nascent Muslim Brotherhood might stick to its principles in governing Egypt and fail to embrace moderation.

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In the Bleak Midwinter

Philip Terzian, cold man
Jan 23, 2012

People are entitled to complain about bias in the media, but I’m largely indifferent to the problem. This is not because “liberal bias” doesn’t exist—I’ve been a journalist for 40 years and lifelong witness—but because it is so pervasive, and so impervious to challenge, that it is hardly worth mentioning. One might just as usefully complain about the weather. 

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Ungentlemanly Agreement

2:55 PM, Jan 17, 2012

My colleague Michael Warren recently asked Jon Huntsman to comment on why he had failed to appeal to Republican voters, and got this response:

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Rick Santorum and Independents

3:34 PM, Jan 06, 2012

When former senator Rick Santorum talks about how much he loves Jesus, or hates abortion, he is usually addressing a gallery that is hungry for such rhetoric, and likely to applaud with enthusiasm.

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Turning Away from Europe

Turkey’s second thoughts.
Dec 19, 2011

One way to gauge the present state of European unity is to know that Turkey, which has energetically sought membership in the European Union for the past decade, is now having second thoughts about the enterprise. According to the German Marshall Fund, in 2004, three-quarters of Turks thought EU membership was a good idea; last year, that percentage had dropped to little more than a third.

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1968 and All That

Philip Terzian, primary critic
Dec 05, 2011

Remember McMartin

1:27 PM, Nov 11, 2011

I react to the allegations of child abuse and obstruction of justice at Penn State with a certain reserve.

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‘To Bigotry No Sanction’

Nov 07, 2011

One intriguing, even unexpected, aspect of the race for the Republican nomination has been the emergence—perhaps we should say the reemergence—of the religious issue in presidential politics. Anyone who thinks that John F. Kennedy put it definitively to rest in 1960 in his famous address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association should be aware that the passage of 51 years seems not to have done the trick.

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Je ne regrette rien

Philip Terzian, monolinguist
Oct 17, 2011

I was surprised the other day at lunch when someone asked me a question that, I suppose, must come with age: Had I any regrets in life? 

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Jobs Without Tears

Prophet or master salesman?
2:00 PM, Oct 10, 2011
"In lapidary inscriptions," said Dr. Johnson, "a man is not under oath." Still, I have been a little startled by the Princess Diana-style reaction to the death of Steve Jobs. The Internet has been weighted down with lachrymose tributes; even the mainstream press is given over to extended compliments. Bouquets of flowers have been deposited at the entrance to Apple stores, accompanied by heartfelt handwritten notes to the deceased.  Read more

Be Like Ike

3:16 PM, Sep 28, 2011

An instructive name pops up somewhere between Chris Christie's speech/answer at the Reagan Library this week and Bill Kristol's reaction here. That name is Dwight D. Eisenhower.

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Will the leatherbound volume go the way of the eight-track tape?
Sep 19, 2011


One of the features of a life in journalism is the casual assumption, expressed by nonjournalists at cocktail parties, that journalists “know” things: have the inside dope, heard the real version, predict the future. I have always defended myself by saying that, apart from being acquainted with public officials and the occasional celebrity, journalists know little more than the average reader. And as for predictions, your guess is as good as mine.

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Scared Shirtless

Philip Terzian, student of survival
Sep 05, 2011

My Western friends got a good laugh out of the shattered nerves in Washington—and all along the eastern seaboard, as far as I can tell—after last week’s earthquake. Just as my New England/Midwestern friends are amused by Washington’s paralysis when it snows, the Californians of my acquaintance were quick to remind me that temblors are a routine occurrence where they reside, and that 5.8 on the Richter scale is not exactly the stuff of nightmares. 

Having lived in Los Angeles once upon a

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The Qaddafis Need Your Help

A Parody.
11:10 AM, Sep 02, 2011

From: Mme Safia Farkash <>
Date: Thu, 1 Sep 2011 23:24:37 -0400
To: TWS Editor <>

My dearest Beloved frend,

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I Say Qaddafi, You Say Qathafi

12:18 PM, Aug 24, 2011

The apparent fall of the Qaddafi regime, and the likely capture (or killing) of the tyrant himself, will signal the end not only of four decades of internal repression and external terrorism, but one of the more vexing orthographic challenges in modern American journalism: the spelling of the colonel's surname.

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Straying Far from Reality

8:02 AM, Aug 20, 2011

Full marks to Jay Cost for his deft evisceration of Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman, and their resurrection of Dwight D. Eisenhower as a liberal Democrat. What Fineman and Matthews don't know about American history could fill a book—and in each instance, has done so.

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AC for D.C.

Jul 04, 2011

Returning home the other evening to an empty house from a three-day trip, I checked the thermostat in the darkened vestibule and noticed that the temperature was a few degrees higher than the setting. My alluring wife, who is more cost-conscious than I about such things, had left the air conditioner on at a responsible setting before leaving on her own (separate) trip. The house was comfortable, if perceptibly less cool than usual; but I was intent on unpacking and surveying the tokens and souvenirs I had accumulated during a sojourn in the Hudson Valley.

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Weiner’s Choice

12:06 PM, Jun 09, 2011

I notice that when Congressman Anthony Weiner is asked about resignation—usually on the fly, generally while hurrying past a scrum of reporters—that aura of contrition quickly evaporates. “No, I’m not resigning,” he declares, and the narrowed eyes and pursed lips familiar to viewers of his C-SPAN tantrums are suddenly in evidence.

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Weekend Reading Assignments: Superhuman Runners, Vexing Virtues and the Civil War

Book recommendations from the staff of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
1:30 PM, May 28, 2011

As with Christmas form letters and amateur poetry, I don’t take kindly to friends sticking books in my hand that lie outside my areas of interest, then insisting that I must read them. When one recently did just that with Born to Run, it was nearly cause for excommunication. Sure, I subscribe to the notion that this town rips the bones from your back, it’s a death trap, it’s a suicide wrap, we gotta get out while we’re young. But I’ve never entirely trusted Springsteen.

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The End of a United Kingdom?

1:33 PM, May 07, 2011

The news has flown a bit under the radar here in the United States, for understandable reasons; but the results earlier this week of the Scottish parliament elections are historic. Whether this is good or bad history, of course, remains to be seen. For the first time, and much against the odds and recent opinion polls, Alex Salmond's Scottish Nationalist Party has won an absolute majority in the Edinburgh parliament--something that the Hollyrood system was designed to prevent, and which now puts the future of the United Kingdom itself in jeopardy. Let me explain.

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A Trip Through the Carnage

Two new books offer something more on the war that haunts America.
9:00 AM, Apr 30, 2011

Glorious Army
Robert E. Lee's Triumph 1862-1863
by Jeffrey D. Wert
Simon & Schuster, 400pp., $30

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Madame Nhu, 1924-2011

8:15 AM, Apr 28, 2011

The death of Madame Nhu in Rome, at the age of 87, brings home one age-old lesson, and another we Baby Boomers increasingly appreciate: Fame is fleeting, and time passes with disconcerting swiftness.

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Philip Terzian, Ginger Man

Apr 25, 2011

As an editor, I pay a certain amount of attention to centennials, bicentennials, sesquicentennials, and the like. This year, for example, is the centennial of the birth of William Golding, Spike Jones, and Hubert Humphrey and the sesquicentennial of the firing on Fort Sumter. But I was momentarily taken aback not long ago when I realized that it is also Ginger Rogers’s centennial. 

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Casual Encounters With Print

Sarah Palin and the Oxford University Press.
11:03 AM, Apr 20, 2011

Two random thoughts on the book biz, prompted by a couple of casual encounters with print this week.

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Music (Not) for the Masses

Nat Hentoff gives jazz its due.
11:19 AM, Apr 06, 2011

At the Jazz Band Ball
Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene
by Nat Hentoff
California, 272pp., $27.50

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Censorius Souls

India moves to ban Gandhi bio.
8:00 AM, Apr 05, 2011

It has come as something of a surprise to many that Joseph Lelyveld's new biography of Gandhi -- Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India (Knopf) -- seems to be causing considerable offense in Gandhi's homeland, largely because of Lelyveld's discussion of Gandhi's relationship with a German-Jewish architect named Hermann Kallenbach. Indian cabinet members have publicly condemned the book, and Great Soul has already been banned in Gujarat, the state where Gandhi was born and raised.

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