President Obama says Americans feel worse about race relations not because relationsare worse, but because we're talking about them more.
Obama offered that analysis during a year-ending NPR interview. In a 40-minute talk just before he left Washington for the holidays, he gave clues to his thinking about his final two years in office.
The president says he wanted 2014 to be a "breakthrough year," when the economy would decisively improve and the nation's toxic politics might improve too. Though the economy did grow, 2014 became another year of unexpected disasters and unplanned events. That surely contributed to the drop in Obama's approval ratings, and left the president with little power to prevent his party's loss of the Senate.
Of this year's unexpected events, some of the most difficult and dramatic surrounded two police killings of black men in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City. Yet in our talk on Dec. 18, the president interpreted the widespread debate over the killings as a sign of potential positive change: