Ted Cruz has done the impossible.

No, the U.S. senator didn’t reverse history and complete his Don Quixote-like quest to abolish Obamacare. He did, however, perform the seemingly impossible by garnering a non-miniscule audience for his 21-hour diatribe against federal spending and the new health care law.

Cable news stations splattered his image across the screen for most of the afternoon Tuesday, perhaps riveted by the senator’s firebrand style, which was certainly on display. For instance, less than a half hour after grabbing the podium, he had already compared his fight to the one against Nazi Germany in the 1940s. References to “Stars Wars,” “Green, Eggs and Ham,” and the World Wrestling Federation would eventually follow.

His speech on the senate floor ultimately can be described in two ways. It was either an impassioned filibuster that technically wasn’t a filibuster, or perhaps the longest campaign ad in history.

Those familiar with the senator from Texas know that, despite being elected only 10 months ago, he’s already garnered a reputation for casting stones. While his pursuits have at times alienated members of even his own party, he’s become a darling of the Tea Party movement. If Cruz’s goal was to somehow obliterate Obama’s signature law on the spot, he failed. His “filibuster” didn’t block a bill; it just postponed the vote by 24 hours or so. But if his aim was to fire up the base of the Tea Party, a daylong attempt to kill Obamacare is the perfect kindling.

What better way to appeal to conservative voters in key Southern states such as South Carolina? The senator’s signature black cowboy boots are a good start, but those can only go so far.

Yes, the next presidential race is more than three years away. But Cruz just had his opening act and, despite the sore feet, it couldn’t have been easier – a captive audience on a slow news day with hours of free air time.