I’ve grappled many times with the question of whether conservatives are stupid or lying. Brad DeLong redefines the question, and in doing so provides the most plausible answer I’ve come across so far.
We want an “honest conservative”–a conservative intellectual adversary we can respect, who is also intelligent. But their first move is to define a “conservative” as a public supporter of the Bush regime and its deeds. That means, I think, that they are searching the empty set.
Slavoj Zizek applied this to the puppet regimes of Eastern Europe under the iron curtain:
The Trilemma: Of the three featuresâ€”-personal honesty, sincere support of the regime, and intelligenceâ€”-it was possible to combine only two, never all three. If one was honest and supportive, one was not very bright; if one was bright and supportive, one was not honest; if one was honest and bright, one was not supportive…
But it applies just as well to the Bush regime. Sincere conservative supporters are not bright. Bright conservative supporters are not honest. Bright and honest conservatives are not supporters–and so are ruled out, and we are left with Larry Kudlow and Ramesh Ponnuru.
Emphasis added. More here, including a proposed system of classification.