What he did was, he fired up the crazies.

- John McCain

Hillary Clinton isn't the first person to use too broad a brush to paint supporters of Donald Trump. There's a long list of former contenders for the Republican presidential nomination who failed to undertand that Trump's support includes a large swath of America that simply believes it is being ignored.

It's hard to ignore Trump. He's a master of goading foes into bouts of name-calling - "Lying Ted," "Little Marco." Such exchanges may reduce his opponents' stature, but not the expectations people have for someone who long ago added entertainment to the panopoly of entrepreneurial endeavors that line his pockets. There's no greater show than politics.

Clinton climbed on the stage when she said "you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it." She also said other Trump supporters "feel the government has let them down, the economy let them down, nobody cares about them." But that was largely ignored.

Trump pounced all over Clinton's remarks. He hurriedly aired a TV ad featuring her "deplorables" comment followed by a panorama of folks attending Trump rallies who looked nothing like those branded with Clinton's description. Like a sci-fi movie, the commercial's relationship to reality was strained, but the ad made its point.

Clinton made a bigger mistake than candidate Barack Obama in 2008, when he tried to describe Americans who think their country no longer values them. "They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations," said Obama.

Though he was criticized for the comment, Obama had tried to be sympathetic. In comparison, Clinton's harshness in presenting her litany of sins perpetrated by Trump's most undesirable backers trampled her weak attempt to dilute the remark by acknowledging that other Trump supporters were guilty only of wanting a president who cares about them.

Clinton's ham-handedness in making the distinction detracted from what is perhaps the most important point to be made in this election: Divisiveness won't solve this country's problems. Meanwhile, objective analyses of Trump's campaign have documented its appeal to those Americans who feel most threatened by people who don't look, talk, or worship like them.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll showed Trump supporters are twice as likely as Clinton supporters to have negative views of Islam. A Pew Research Center poll showed Trump supporters are more likely than Clinton supporters to link undocumented immigrants to crime. Another Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that up to 50 percent of Trump supporters believe that black people are less intelligent, more lazy, more rude, more violent, more criminal, or all of these.

Such numbers may support Clinton's assessment of Trump's support, but she didn't open any doors to unity with her choice of language. The nation needs a leader who can avoid being drawn into name-calling and focus on solving its problems.