The Clerk of Soul
More from the Loudoun County Republican Convention:
How do I work this? I was a bit dumbfounded about how to best maximize the fortuitous melding of Republican politics and Christian real estate.
I needn't have worried. After Brian Withnell gave his reasonably nuts-and-bolts speech about why he wished to be Clerk of the Circuit Court, it all became very clear.
As soon as Withnell left the podium, the lights dimmed and the spotlight swirled as fog covered the stage floor.
A twangy, syncopated funky bass line cut through the thick air. I was wondering whether this was Bootsy Collins from his P-Funk days or his Talking Heads days when, suddenly, a tall figure appeared stage right flanked by two hunched-over assistants who pulled the shiny, purple cloak from his back as he stepped up to the mike.
A booming voice exclaimed "Ladies and gentlemen of the Republican Convention, give it up now for the CLERK OF SOUL!!"
The white lights zapped to full intensity as he shouted "Hellooo, RePUBLICANS!!! Are you all proud to be REPUBLICANS??!"
We all shouted "Yeah!"
Your humble correspondent cannot afford a camera fast enough to capture cleanly the whirlwind of motion and light that IS the Clerk of Soul
"And are you proud to be here affirming the principles of representative government?"
We all screamed "YEAHHH!"
"And are you HAVING A GOOD TIME!!!?"
The funk went up numerous decibels, we all began clapping, while this amazing showman commenced telling us each our life stories. The entire auditorium seemed to sway:
"I believe in our families and communities, do YOU?!!"
"Do you believe in the HOPE of our principles and the TRUTH of our conservative movement and the FAITH of our dedication to what we have always held dear?!!"
The guy in the seat next to me asked "What does any of this have to do with his Clerk of Court job?"
I answered, "For the love of all that is good and holy, man, DON'T THINK ABOUT IT - JUST EXPERIENCE IT!!!"
And at that moment I realized:
Brian Withnell was merely running for Clerk of Court.
Gary Clemens was running for Clerk of GOD. And how you gonna compete with that?
Clemens bounded from one side of the stage to the other, delineating the accomplishments of his office:
"We cut wait times from an average of 30 minutes to 22 minutes."
"We met all federal standards for on-time filing of records!"
By this time I could feel the subconscious excitement building and the hairs on my neck began to stick up. Something strange was happening here, some preternatural expression of bureaucratic excellence on the level of the Pharoahs and the Caesars. My arms were twitching; the audience was shouting incomprehensibly, when Clemens let loose the cannon blast:
"In 2005, the state compensation board recognized my office as being ranked in the top 15 out of 120 offices in Virginia for financial management practices."
My neck muscles tensed and my eyes bulged while an explosion formed in my lungs; my head shook spastically from side to side as I exclaimed "YEAHHHH!!! YEAHHHH!!!"
I looked at my neighbor and our eyes locked as we both shouted in unison "OHHHHH!! YEAHHHHH!!!".
Financial management practices? Oh, gosh, yeah! That's WHY I became a Republican.
The entire crowd went berserk. I needed air so I lurched out into the aisle, lay down on the floor, watched the ceiling spin above me, gasped for air, when suddenly a wing-tipped toe smashed into my chest between the 3rd and 4th ribs. It was Deacon Ken Reid, charging down the aisle.
Or leaping, I should say. I should have been more careful.
I had noticed during Brian Withnell's speech that the Deacon was jogging up and down the aisles passing out signs and whispering instructions. The Deacon covered the entire hall, from one end to the other, and by the time Rev. Clemens was into his sermon, the Deacon was literally jitterbugging with his "Clemens" signs and rousting others to join in.
I tried to get in sync but it was hard. Clemens exclaimed "We have established standard operating procedures. We have provided training for our staff."
This denotation of bureaucratic accomplishment is surely red-meat for most Republicans so the cries rang out "YEAHHHH!! AUGGHHHHH!!! WHOOOO-HOOOOO!!!"
But I was pretty sure some internal organs were damaged so as much as I wanted to join the shouting, I just rolled to the side of the aisle and let the Deacon have his runway.
I was flecked with Deacon Reid's sweat and spittle. By this time the music was so loud, the sweat so infusive, and (I was pretty sure) incense so pervasive, I was ready to pass out.
When the Reverend said: "My fellow Clerks thought so highly of my customer service initiatives that I am first vice president of the Clerk's Association of Virginia, and if I'm elected today I'll be president!" the audience went ballistic.
Flashbulbs were popping. Women swooned. Babies wailed. Men howled and slapped each other in the face for no reason.
It was pure bedlam, but a good kind of bedlam. We all put the funk on, which is definitely what you want to get from your Clerk of Court.
[Full disclosure: Most of this post is imaginary. Only those in attendance will appreciate the elements which bear on reality.]
[UPDATE: Loudoun Insider is labeling this post and the fact we DARED to print a letter from Brian Withnell an "assault" on Gary Clemens. Apart from the fact I wrote immediately after the Convention I was planning to have fun at Gary's expense - thereby giving him plenty of time to brace himself - I think Gary's speech was unusual enough to merit some kidding. LI has become a bit of a Withnell-phobe and it appears he will not rest easy until Brian Withnell leaves the country and is expunged from all public records. I have to believe Gary Clemens has slightly thicker skin.]
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