Ezra Klein and Paul Krugman are onto something in this excerpt. Klein used the word “thoughtful” in the quote below. He meant “smart,” of course, but was too thoughtful to say so.
[Jonathan] Chait professes himself puzzled by the right’s intellectual insecurity. Me, not so much. Here’s how I see it: in our current political culture, the background noise is overwhelmingly one of conservative platitudes. People who have strong feelings about politics but are intellectually incurious tend to pick up those platitudes, and repeat them in the belief that this makes them sound smart. (Ezra Klein once described Dick Armey thus: “He’s like a stupid person’s idea of what a thoughtful person sounds like.”)