In his Dec. 4 op-ed column, “It’s not about Rice,” Richard Cohen declared — correctly — that the controversy surrounding U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is not the result of real concerns about her abilities. But he then made a leap of logic in stating that the real fight is over vision and principle. If that were the case, however, the challenge to President Obama and his policies would be with the president and his policies, not with the people reading talking points.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), one of the leaders in the fight against nominating Ms. Rice as secretary of state, seemed to tip his hand recently regarding the motivation behind the fight. Mr. McCain teased Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) by calling him “Mr. Secretary,” a reference to chatter surrounding Mr. Kerry’s consideration for secretary of state.

Perhaps there is a simpler answer to Mr. McCain’s opposition to Ms. Rice’s nomination. If Mr. Kerry is appointed to the Cabinet, it would force a special election for his Senate seat in Massachusetts. The most likely winner would be former senator Scott Brown, recently defeated by Elizabeth Warren. This would give a needed pickup to the Republicans.

Peter Vos, Rockville