Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., demonstrated in his filibuster of John Brennan exactly why he is a formidable force and why 2016 contenders and their supporters should be nervous.
Paul, in carrying on a filibuster hour after hour - gaining adherents including the minority leader who vowed to oppose cloture - demonstrated remarkable discipline, and I don't just refer to his ability to stay on his feet.
At times he ventured into skepticism about the war on terror itself, but he largely kept his remarks on issues - constitutional protection, separation of powers, President Obama's executive imperialism - that will unite all Republicans and a great many libertarians and even independents.
He talked conversationally and fluently, even when voicing views with which some hawks disagree (i.e., whether a war can go on without time and geographic limits).
He appeared principled but not unhinged, managing to unite Republicans and put the left and the media on defense for not having taken up the drone cause themselves and for failing to demand any level of transparency from an administration that has refused to cough up information on everything from the Osama bin Laden files to the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
And Paul used his time wisely, not merely reading from speeches or documents (or the phone book, as in the old-style filibusters), but speaking about the danger of aggregating power in the executive.
Paul has a sense of political timing few others have. He simply grabbed the floor on a snow day without much else going on and managed to get the attention of the entire political chattering class.
He didn't make a to-do about getting votes to defeat cloture; he conducted an actual, talking filibuster, which proved to be interesting and dramatic.
It is an interesting contrast to the Conservative Political Action Committee disaster this week. This is, if you will, the New Right vs. the Old Right.
Strict ideology isn't what separates them, although there are some clear differences. (Paul has favored allowing states to decide same-sex marriage and has backed immigration reform.)
Rather, it is the degree of media savvy, flair for the dramatic, and principled opposition that divides a fading old guard from the GOP's future leaders.