It's striking how identity politics has suddenly come roaring back in this campaign: gender, race and, of course, religion:

"I don't presume that you automatically support me because of a common faith. I know I have to earn that. But I also recognize that there is a unique kind of opportunity. For a long time, those of us who are people of faith are asked to support candidates who would come and talk to us. But rarely has there been one who comes from us."

Some cultural identification is inevitable in America, and not the worst thing in the world. What's worrying is when candidates do not just accept this, but seek to exploit it directly. Huckabee's appeal to Christianists is the most troubling; but Clinton's on gender grounds is not that much better. So far, Obama's campaign has resisted crude racial appeals, but this has seemed to unravel a bit in the wake of the Clintons' rhetorical slips this past week. Less is more, on this front. Or we begin to lose the capacity to see ourselves as equal participants in a democracy, rather than interest groups fighting for what's and who's ours.

My Sunday Times column on Clinton, Obama and the race and gender wars can be read here.