A new NBC/WSJ poll has a list of positive and negative favorability ratings for a litany of public figures ranging from Paul Ryan to Robert Mueller to Joe Biden. They all have various numbers next to their name, but I don’t want to focus on any of them but one. (Actually, I do for a second: STOP remembering George W. Bush as your kooky Uncle who paints, and START remembering him as the war criminal who invaded a sovereign nation under false pretenses while exploiting one of the greatest tragedies in our nation’s history—sparking a civil war that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, and ultimately led us into a quagmire that we will be trying to rectify for generations.)
That will be the last rant you hear of any of these other humans, because I want to narrow our focus to the Internet’s Swamp Thing who has a whopping 5% favorability rating.
That’s 85% lower than Donald Trump’s lowest approval rating.
It’s such a magical number. Something so small, yet still sizable. Five percent is enough to swing a presidential election in most years. Five percent sustains billion-dollar industries. You can do a lot with five percent, so on a certain level, Steve Bannon’s grifting is to be expected. To quote another self-proclaimed agent of chaos: “look what I did to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets.” Bannon tapped in to a force that completely invaded our politics, akin to the Joker’s destruction of Gotham with the bare essentials.
But, at the end of the day, five percent is five percent. Mitch McConnell, who has one of those names that just feels offensive on the surface—like someone who ends every sentence directed at someone with the word “boy”—is soaring above Bannon’s bloated corpse at a heart-stopping 13%. Paul Ryan—who is respected by no one in D.C. after stapling his semi-failed tenure to Trump—is nearly 600% more popular than a guy famous only for racism and Seinfeld residuals.
After stabbing everyone in the back on his way out of Washington—including Trump—Bannon has become not just more reviled than D.C.’s most reviled creatures, but exponentially more so. Spiritually, he is still the living embodiment of the dreck the GOP has become, but he has no base. It’s a mind-blowing feat. Theoretically, this figure should be impossible given who Bannon is and always has been.
So who are these five percent brave souls willing to look the world in the eye and tell us to piss off? The Mercers turned on Bannon, so he stooped to groveling trying to get on good terms with Breitbart—an entity he does not run anymore. Steve Bannon introduced the word “cuck” into the American lexicon, and now he is defining the word on his way out of D.C. Those who use the word “cuck” earnestly cannot possibly endorse a man debasing himself in public for another man’s enjoyment. All Bannon needs to add to his nationwide humiliation is offering Trump a wife (he doesn’t have), and he’d arrive at the XXX-rated genesis of the term.
Part of the reason why Steve Bannon is at 5% is because his name is all over the news lately—especially negatively in the MAGAmedia. Normies already knew that Bannon was a creep, but what’s caused this dip is Trump’s base abandoning him. What this reveals is that Trump is so alluring to his base that nearly all of them will leave Bannon in a “take it or leave it” situation, while just 5% will try to make the marriage work. However, once the mania from Michael Wolff’s book of apparently truthful lies, Fire and Fury subsides, Bannon will become less radioactive, and these numbers will go up.
There will always be room for grifters among the desperate and ill-informed in any society, it’s up to the rest of us to ensure that their appeal remains in the area of 5%. We have proof that Internet Swamp Things can rocket up to 46.4% and, next thing you know, they’re America’s first half-man half-Cheeto president.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.