This is not a Ted Cruz bashing item. As far as we know from the record, Cruz is an intelligent man.
This is a NYT-bashing item, for Erik Eckholm's profile of Cruz today: "Senate Candidate in Texas Is Known as an Intellectual Force." This isn't a headline exaggeration of the contents of the article; Eckholm says experts predict Cruz will be an "intellectual force in the Congress," and in fact uses the word "intellectual" four times in the piece.
And yet...other than having a few people (mostly political allies) saying that he's smart, Eckholm gives us very little to go on even for that, and nothing at all that would hint at "intellectual." No book. No learned article. Not even an op-ed piece. We do learn that he wrote an undergrad thesis at Princeton, but nothing about it. No ideas associated with him, or his campaign. No brilliant speech that everyone cites (at least Mario Cuomo had a couple of those). The only time we get to hear Cruz's voice in the whole thing, it's when he's giving standard Republican rhetoric and punch lines.
I don't have any sense at all of what the truth is. Perhaps he is poised to be a leader in developing new conservative ideas in the Senate, but Eckholm just didn't figure out how to convince me of it in his profile. Perhaps he's just a smart guy who will vote and act like a generic Tea Party Senator but otherwise leave little mark, and Eckholm was just duped. I have no idea! All I know is that it's bad newspapering to tell me the guy is about to be an intellectual force in Congress without giving me either any reason to believe it's true or any hint about the content of that force.