View from a NY loft: The devil’s own choice

The certainty of a Hillary Clinton victory had given way to anxiety as soon as TV anchors began to concede that Donald Trump had taken Florida.

A dozen or so friends, who had assembled in Lucknow boy-turned-New Yorker, Nusrat Durrani’s trendy DUMBO loft under the Brooklyn Bridge, did not have the heart to uncork champagne bottles. We were not sure which one of the Clinton supporters in the party might be offended, so shocking had been the trends fairly early.

Our adorable Jewish World Banker friend couldn’t bear to look at the screen. “I feel faint, I must leave.” Another from the State Department was on frantic long-distance calls advising her family to prepare for the worst.

Trust a journalist, an honest senior backroom boy with Fox News, to be in total control of his nerves. Outside his 48th street and 6th avenue office, multimillion dollar arrangements had been made for victory celebrations. Fox News was supporting Trump. They were therefore unlikely to waste their wealth in preparation for a Clinton victory. The implication was that Fox, their tentacles deep in the Trump establishment, had a better sense which way the electoral cookie was crumbling. They had prepared for a Trump victory well in advance.

Our host, with his Lucknow versatility, a Kashmiri wife, and a committed New Yorker’s serious contemplation of the shock results, looked calm. But the way he consoled his wife, made his anxieties transparent. His white neighbour, banged frantically at the door, and barged in, beads of perspiration on her brow. She could not bear to watch the results alone. She needed to hold her neighbour’s hand. It was all too unnerving, the earth was moving from beneath people’s feet.

Even though everyone in that volatile assembly saw the results according to their own lights, pockets of consensus were discernable among a group huddled in this corner, or another, speaking in whispers there.

One consensus is now a universal cliché: of the two bad choices, Clinton was more acceptable to folks raised on a daily diet of New York Times and CNN. The establishment, in other words.

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