Just as Lenin's body remains on public display in Russia, because one never knows when he might be useful to rally the masses, so, too, does the ghost (but thankfully not the body) of the late Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) remain a useful symbol for Democrats in Washington.
Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) are the latest to summon McCarthy's ghost. After Sen. Ted Cruz, (R-Texas), asked defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel whether he had been compensated by foreign interests hostile to the United States for speeches he made in which he seemed to favor their aspirations, Boxer said of Cruz's tenacious questioning, "It was really reminiscent of a different time and place, when you said, 'I have here in my pocket a speech you made on such and such a date,' and of course nothing was in the pocket. It was reminiscent of some bad times."
McCarthy said "hand," not "pocket," but why quibble?
That Democrats over the years have filibustered and smeared some people nominated by Republican presidents as "out of the mainstream," or "extremists" (remember Robert Bork?) does not register on the media hypocrisy meter, but hypocrisy is sometimes bipartisan, so let's move on to a more important topic.
Why do Democrats fear the double threats of Ted Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)? A day after the State of the Union address, CNN ran a chyron that questioned whether Rubio's reach for a bottle of water during his pointed response to President Obama's speech might have been a "career-ender." Democrats wish.
After becoming the first Hispanic to win a Senate seat in Texas, Cruz told CBS News, "I think the values in the Hispanic community are fundamentally conservative, but you've got to have candidates that connect with that community in a real and genuine way and communicate that the values between the candidate and the community are one and the same."
This is what Cruz and Rubio are doing. They don't use their heritage as a wedge to divide; rather they are using it as an avenue for communicating ideas to those who share that heritage -- and to a wider audience -- in ways that can improve everyone's life.
Cruz talks about "opportunity conservatism," a phrase that contrasts with some Democrats' apparent belief that the federal government should reign supreme. Cruz and Rubio are dangerous to statists because they speak of things that ignited the Reagan revolution, including the belief that the power to improve your life is in you, not in Washington.
If those who have placed their faith and trust (and votes) in President Obama and the cult of big government awaken to the idea that only they have the power to change their circumstances, they won't need politicians. Such an awakening will not bode well for Democrats whose political careers are often about bigger and more encroaching government and penalizing the successful with ever-higher taxes and burdensome government regulations.
Democrats aren't likely to sit still and allow Cruz and Rubio's ideas to reach not only Hispanics, but the rest of America. Their ideas are more powerful than the weapons used by Democrats in their race and class warfare where people are seen not as individuals, but as voting blocs.
That is why much of the media seems to focus on trivialities, rather than on what Rubio and Cruz are saying.
Some conservatives like to summon the ghost of Franklin Roosevelt whose programs could be said to have sparked the modern entitlement mentality. For liberals, it's McCarthy. Both should be returned to the history books and removed from contemporary political debate. With McCarthy, it probably won't happen because Cruz and Rubio threaten to damage the Democrats' base, and they can't have that. For some Democrats it's more about political power and reliance on dysfunctional government, than about ideas that work.
CAL THOMAS is a nationally syndicated columnist.