At the time, that seemed a little counter-intuitive. Wouldn't it be better to go up against someone dumb and slam dunk your case against them?
You might think so, until you've spent a little time in the lawyer trenches. And then the rationale behind the formula
vindictive > crazy > stupid
becomes very clear.
A petty lawyer might at least be smart, and you can argue against smart. More importantly, vindictiveness implies a measure of self-interestedness. No matter how mean someone is, if you can show someone where their own best interest lies, you can negotiate with them.
A crazy lawyer will eventually reveal him or herself to be crazy. More importantly, crazy can eventually be manipulated in turn because everyone wants something.
But stupid is hard to nail down.
Any lawyer who opens a brief and thinks, "This? What is this? How do I argue against this? Can I just write, 'Seriously?' in response?" knows what I'm talking about. My old professor was absolutely right.
Take The Walking Dead for example.* If you've been watching it on AMC, you will probably be familiar with the following faces.
And yet, anyone who is watching this show knows that as distasteful as he may be, Merle is the lesser of these two evils when it comes to Zombie Apocalypse. Because Andrea may be moral and gutsy, and Merle a psychopath, but Andrea is dumb as a box of rocks.
Would Merle have insisted on wasting an arrow to mercy kill a zombie? No. Would Merle be alienating all his allies in the camp? No. Would Merle have shot at someone from a distance without knowing whether that someone was a zombie or a human? No.
But Andrea would. Because you can't argue with fundamentally stupid.
Five different people warned Andrea not to fire in the most recent episode of The Walking Dead, but she thought she knew better than them and did it anyway.
A smarter person would have thought, "Hey, some of our people are still out in the woods, I should wait and be sure" or, "All the guys are running up to him/it anyway, I shouldn't waste our finite bullet supply," or "Experience in Zombie Apocalypse has taught me that loud noises attract more zombies, perhaps a baseball bat attack would be preferable in this situation," or "Aren't four of my friends currently in the line of fire, and hasn't there already been one near-fatality because someone pulled a trigger without checking to see if the field is clear, and damnit, didn't I just learn to shoot YESTERDAY?"
But Andrea thought none of those things, and nearly killed the most valuable member of the camp.
I'm not saying that one would want crazy, violent, racist Merle Dixon on your team. But I am saying he'd be easier to deal with than Andrea. Because even Merle would not have pulled that trigger.
Do you have any examples in film, TV or literature of a dumb character ultimately being a worse antagonist than a clever, evil one?
* Uh, yeah I fixate on particular books, movies, and TV shows for weeks at a time, why do you ask?