Understanding nuance

I was treated to a wonderful — if somewhat unexpected — conversation about politics last night with an old friend. The concept of nuance repeatedly weaved its way in and out of the discussion. Ever since I first became a supporter and vocal proponent of Barack Obama, I’ve held two of his qualities above all others: 1) his insistence that the solution to problems lies in all of us collectively and 2) his ability to understand the nuance and complexity of our national challenges.

This morning, Nicholas Kristoff’s New York Times op-ed “Obama and the War on Brains” examines the challenge of being an intellectual president throughout the history of America. Kristoff wonders if Obama’s election signals a shift in American anti-intellectualism. I have my doubts, simply because Obama’s victory is rooted more deeply in the GOP’s complicity in and inconsistent response to the economic crisis. But I am hopeful, like Kristoff, that perhaps the American public — at least the voting public — is more appreciative and accepting of a leader who does not see the world in black and white, but rather in its true shades of grey.