WebMD for politics, or a guide to the many fevers of Washington, D.C.

Nerds have a fever, and the only prescription is more articles about income inequality.


Thomas Piketty, French economist behind Socialist party candidate Francois Hollande's plan to tax all income over one million euros ($1.3 million) per year at 75 percent, poses in his office in Paris April 11, 2012. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

At least that's what one would guess from all the mentions of "Piketty fever" in recent weeks, a reference to the French economist who wrote the improbably popular book "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," and is rapidly approaching boy band territory among those who swoon when they hear his economic predictions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

See, we weren't kidding. This isn't the first time the world of politics has come down with a case of the trends. Here is a brief guide to other maladies Washington, D.C., has come down with in history.

A

amendment fever (n): a ailment that causes an allergic reaction to political pet peeves, forcing the afflicted to propose drastic changes to federal government in order to make it all stop.

Congress and state legislatures appear to be recovering from a peculiar political virus that swept the nation during the middle years of President Reagan's first term. The virus caused an irrational desire to address the federal government's budget problems by tinkering with the U.S. Constitution. A vote in the U.S. Senate is an encouraging sign that the fever has broken.

anti-incumbent fever (n): an illness in which the afflicted are unable to see the name of their current elected officials on ballots. Usually the symptoms disappear after a day.

But the growing clamor for term limits and the anti-incumbent fever that, for instance, has Washington State on the brink of throwing out the powerful (and uncorrupt) speaker of the House of Representatives and sending in his place an impotent freshman is not about rascals. It is as though anyone who can win election to office is, on that account, unfit for the job.

anti-Washington fever (n): a disease caused by prolonged contact with bad economic conditions and gridlock. Can be treated with the same medications that cure anti-incumbent fever

In dozens of interviews across the country -- from California to Michigan to Florida -- the anti-Washington fever is apparent.

B

baseball fever (n): a disorder that leads the afflicted to forget that there is a presidential campaign going on -- even for those working on it

Washington Swept By Baseball Fever: Capital Officials Forget Politics in Heat of American League Pennant Race; Streets Filled with Fans; Traffic is Blocked as Throngs Watch Play-by-Play Returns on Elaborate Scoreboards

Benghazi fever (n): an ailment in which the afflicted are unable to discuss anything except the talking points that followed the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012

The current outbreak of Benghazi Fever shows how strong the virus is—and that it is apparently immune to basic remedy.

boogie fever (n.): a contagious virus that runs rampant at political conventions, causing uncontrollable and unrhythmic spasms in the afflicted. The worse case ever recorded happened at the 1996 Democratic National Convention.

Just after showing a little intellectual leg in a brief but learned deconstruction of comments by Rep. Joseph Hoeffel (D-Penn.) on Sudan, blogger Christopher Wavrin brought a reporter to her knees, giggling. How? With his description of an epidemic of boogie fever sweeping the convention floor. "Take my advice, please: If you choose to watch the speeches on C-SPAN, you should turn away from the TV," Wavrin wrote. "I'm glad the delegates are happy -- but this dancing must stop. Do Democrats across the nation want to be associated with some of these people? I'm trying not to be too mean, but when some of these people start gyrating, it's haunting to watch. So, please: Look away."

C

campaign fever (n.): an illness usually suffered in the months before Election Day, as coverage of the event becomes unavoidable and increasingly nasty.

"As the national political campaign moves into the final month the temp has been stepped up sharply, and indications are that it will reach a fever heat before election day.

D

debate fever (n): a disorder in which the afflicted suffer alarming excitement at the prospect of listening to politicians argue for 90 minutes

Debate fever has come to Hofstra once again, this time sweeping up many students who first heard of the university when it played host to the 2008 debate. 

E

election fever (n): an infection with symptoms including bated breath at the idea of months and months of polls and campaign ads

Washington catches the election fever ahead of the rest of the country because so many people in the city are directly involved.

F

fiscal fever (n.): an illness defined by an inability to talk about any economic issues but the deficit.

But the intransigence of the right wasn’t the only disease troubling America’s body politic in 2012. We were also suffering from fiscal fever: the insistence by virtually the entire political and media establishment that budget deficits were our most important and urgent economic problem, even though the federal government could borrow at incredibly low interest rates.

G

green fever (n.): an illness that leads the afflicted to support environmentally friendly policies. Scientists seem to think this fever could be beneficial to sufferers, but political observers are split.

"Eco-Friendly Era Has Arrived in Md." [front page, March 28] stated that suddenly Annapolis is filled with green fever, and now "the place feels like California on the Chesapeake."

H

Hillary Clinton fever (n.): a chronic case of campaign fever, which has longterm symptoms and is usually severe. Doctors fear that the world may soon suffer a pandemic.

Here is a checklist of things to watch about Clinton’s future — a kind of viewer’s guide to Hillary Fever:

Hollywood fever (n): a disease resulting in an unexplained outbreak of celebrities. Has similar symptoms to White House Correspondents Dinner fever.

Hollywood Fever Hits Washington

I

inaugural fever (n.): a malady that grows especially contagious in winter, when the afflicted suddenly wish to stand outside in the cold, surrounded by people, watching an event that is happening out of their range of vision. In others, the illness manifests itself in a wish to attend many crowded parties. Symptoms also include buying souvenirs emblazoned with pictures of the president-elect

Inaugural fever is gripping Washington, with Americans hungry for pass to galas and receptions besieging President-elect Clinton's staff and any member of Congress who might have a spare ticket or two.

K

Kennedy fever (n.): a disorder that has symptoms ranging from an inability to stop buying books about the JFK assassination to making collages from Vanity Fair stories on Camelot, framing them and hanging them in your dining room.

Auction fever and Kennedy fever are both running high, and there is no telling what price the Zapruder film would have brought had it been put up for public sale.

L

legislative fever (n.): a sickness with symptoms including a delirious high allowing one to pass excessive numbers of bills, followed by months of exhaustion and inability to pass anything

Congress' Brief Legislative Fever Has Broken; Politics: Lots of show but little substantive lawmaking seems likely again as elections near, in contrast to post-attack days of action.

M

MSNBC fever (n.): a disorder in which one can only talk in Chris Matthews quotes.

"Assemblywoman Watson Coleman caught the MSNBC fever," Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R) said in a statement, according to The Newark Star-Ledger[1]. "Her call for the governor to resign may be what MSNBC wants to hear but not the people in the State of New Jersey."

N

New Hampshire fever (n.): a sickness that leaves the afflicted very conflicted about whether they want to be president. The only known cure can be purchased in Manchester, New Hampshire.

KEEP YOUR SEAT BELT FASTENED FOR THE FINAL BLITZ; NEW HAMPSHIRE FEVER

O

Obama fever (n.): an illness with symptoms that include an unquenchable thirst for merchandise with the president's face on it, and an inability to stop listening to that will.i.am song.

Across the store, there are bins and bins of campaign buttons. One has Obama's likeness alongside Dr. Martin Luther King. One features Michele Obama in a magenta sleeveless dress. Others proclaim "Cat Lovers for Obama" and "Soccer Moms for Obama."

P

partisan fever (n): an illness with symptoms that include being unable to play poker or get lunch with politicians from the opposite party

President Obama had predicted his re-election would break the partisan fever gripping Washington, especially since the Tea Party movement swept Republicans to control of the House. It did not.

Potomac fever (n): an illness with symptoms including a desire to move to Washington, D.C.. or stay there for long periods.

She is, she says, immune to Potomac Fever and has ''not once'' regretted her decision. She acknowledges, however, that it is the political arena that effects social change.

R

Romney fever (n.): also known as Mitt Mania. Symptoms include passionate support of Mitt Romney.

But if a core of passionate Romney backers exists anywhere, you would expect it to find it in Massachusetts, the place where he built his adult life after enrolling at Harvard Business School in the early 1970s, where he served as governor for four years, and which he refers to as "my state." With that in mind, Yahoo News took a trip to the Bay State in search of Romney Fever.

S

secession fever (n.): an illness with flu-like symptoms, such as no longer wanting to be affiliated with the United States of America

Secession fever has struck parts of Texas, which Mitt Romney won by nearly 1.3 million votes.

spring fever (n.): a disorder which leads politicians to write memos about streaking after the Vernal Equinox.

Spring has brought a zany mood to the capital as if the people were trying to escape Watergate with laughter.

T

tax-cut fever (n): a disorder in which those suffering have violent thoughts about government spending

The cooling of tax-cut fever has occurred as legislators have concluded that taxpayers are still more concerned about inflation than about tax reduction.

2016 fever (n.): see Hillary Clinton fever

W

Washington fever (n.): "This ailment, which can be characterized as a sudden massive enlargement of the ego followed by raging delusions of grandeur, causes government officials to believe they are somehow entitled to privileges and benefits solely because they conduct the business of a nation that has been described as the world's richest."

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.
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Jaime Fuller · May 30