Abusive phone calls to Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) from opponents of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have drawn widespread criticism, but MSNBC commentators on Wednesday chose to focus on the positive side of the callers' "passion" and concern for women.
One caller told Collins to vote against Kavanaugh and not be a "dumb bitch," and another said she couldn’t pretend to be naive about Kavanaugh destroying the "right to choose what women do with their bodies." After playing audio from these callers, both of whom said "f*** you" to Collins, MSNBC contributor Yamiche Alcindor concentrated on the callers' "passion" for "life-and-death issues."
"When you listen to those and having been out on the campaign trail, it's the passion of people," Alcindor said. "It's obviously abusive and the language that's being used is abhorrent, but you also feel like they're talking about life-and-death issues."
"They're talking about women's rights to choose," Alcindor went on. "They're talking about whether or not you can have health care, pre-existing conditions—these are things that can lead people to die."
"These are the life-and-death things people are talking about," she concluded.
Another panelist nodded in response to Alcindor's assessment, and guest Alexi McCammond noted the callers were both men, demonstrating how abortion "is an issue that’s not just affecting women."
"And that was from two men, which I think really shows how this is an issue that's not just affecting women," McCammond said. "Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings absolutely bring abortion and reproductive rights as a top midterm election issue, in a way it might not have been otherwise."
She said moderate senators like Collins are "stuck in a really tough place."
"Susan Collins and these red-state Democratic senators are stuck in a really tough place with calls like that and decisions like this," McCammond said.
While Alcindor said "the language that’s being used is abhorrent," McCammond did not criticize the callers.
Collins has also received coat hangers and implied threats of various kinds, according to NBC News. One letter warned she would not be able to eat out without waitresses spitting in her food.
"EVERY waitress who serves you is going to spit in your food, and that's if you're lucky, you f***ing c***! Think of that every meal," the writer said.
A group of liberal activists opposed to Kavanaugh created a crowdfunding campaign that has raised more than $1 million in the form of pledges to potentially use against Collins. If Collins votes yes to confirm Kavanaugh, the campaign says the pledges will be given to whoever challenges her in 2020, and if she votes against the nominee, the money will never be withdrawn.
Collins said she will not be bullied or threatened and will instead vote based on "[Kavanaugh's] qualifications, his character and integrity, judicial temperament, his record, and his respect for the rule of law and fidelity to the Constitution."