Among the many things I have to be thankful for this year is that Dick Cheney is no longer in a position of authority and that his opinions about such things as the interrogation tactics revealed in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report (or about anything else, for that matter) are no longer of any consequence.

As a Republican, I find myself clinging to my party’s occasional – but too infrequent – outbursts of honor, humanity and common sense, such as the remarkable acknowledgment of our country’s bad behavior offered on the Senate floor by Sen. John McCain.

I’ve always admired John McCain – not for his politics, which I’ve often found threatening, but for his honesty and willingness to stand up for what he believed in no matter the consequences.

His speech last week was the best example of that willingness in recent memory and the best contrast between what America stands for and what someone like Dick Cheney stands for since Edward R. Murrow reminded us that “the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one.”

As McCain revealed to us, waterboarding is essentially a mock execution and an exquisite form of torture. Cheney’s insistence that it not be regarded thus but rather be justified by the skillfully conjured “enhanced interrogation,” and his eagerness to do it all over again, remind me how very fortunate we are that he no longer matters.

Phil Crossman

Vinalhaven