Santa Cruz, CA. Watch Obama and McCain with 15 friends & neighbors. Three Republicans and 12 Democrats. Host and hostess begin by laying down ground rules, Respect is required, we're not to blast the intelligence of those who disagree with our positions. Very diverse Northern California community, a professional chess teacher, several women from a choir which performs for patients in hospices, a University teacher visiting from San Diego, comedy school students, several craftsmen --and women--, a retired librarian, environmentalists, a massage person who specializes in facials... sorry, that sounds a little off color. Anyway, it's as if host and hostess are preparing us for a prize fight. And the candidates, at the same time, get prepared, shake hands and come out fighting. But it's not a real debate. It's all carefully rehearsed, Obama, who I favor, and McCain both with their talking points. Talking points versus Talking points. Both, complain our friends, skirt the real issues, they deal instead with the froth... it's near the election and therefore they're playing it safe. At some level, their talking points blur, one into the other... several people complain that Ralph Nader is missing. That two million people have been evacuated / Iraqui refugees and 100,000 or more Iraqi civilizans killed (according to BBC radio) and so that is one reason why there is less sectarian violence. Also, says the University professor, neighborhoods in Iraq have been ethnically cleansed and, as a result, Sunnis are less likely to face off, as they once did, against what Martin Buber might call The Other. Who has recently read Buber's I and Thou? So it's not The Surge, says the teacher, it's that there are fewer people around... And Karl Rove and his divide and conquer approach, says choir woman, that Blue State vs. Red State, that hate radio and anonymous ads attacking one side or the other... that's dividing the country and, no matter who wins the election, puts that person, whoever is the winner, into a position where he / she has half the country against him / her right from the beginning. The anti-Clinton folks let their hatred get in the way of their patriotism, because Clinton actually did a number of things right, like manage the economy. When he left office there was a surplus, which... well, enough! Sedate discussion. Repressed feelings. And, to make matters worse for the Democrats, McCain came off looking better than we had wanted him to. Woman healer: Party system is very narrow... and, is military force the only way to solve all this country's problems? Too much emphasis on the military. Both Obama and McCain... these two guys blur, they blend into one another, says the healer. They're too well and too carefully coached and probably rightly fearful of how the media might manipulate, i.e., over simplify, what they say... anything to make a story, anything for a headline.