I hate phrase "political capital". The way I understand it is that when people do you (a politician) political favors or when you win an election with a large number of votes, you suddenly possess a "bank account" you can draw from to get your initiatives enacted. As a concept in political science? Sure. I understand why you want a word for that. But I don't like the implications of the term. That's because I don't like how it implies that you (again the politician) use it like you use money. And in the American version of capitalism, everything (for better or worse) has it's price--you can sell ad space on your forehead, or save money on some products by allowing people to sell your personal information for marketing purposes.
So...calling it "political capital" implies that everything has its price. Any advantage you might be able to wield is legitimate in the name of preserving political power...the only drawback is how much "political captial" it costs you.
I think this is basic problem that Bush administration officials Rove and Libby have in their current political scandal about illegally outing the name of an undercover CIA operative (the most recent version of the story is here). Whether or not Rove or Libby were the actual sources of the leak, their public statements have been to the effect of "Whoa there! We've done nothing illegal!" Not once have they said "We regret ruining the career of a CIA employee and putting at risk the lives of any informants that might have been associated with her. Defending our president's questionable information about Saddam Hussein was not worth that lapse." Jonathan Alter (whose opinions are almost always dead on) describes the price this way in this article:
The bigger question is what this scandal does to the CIA's ability to develop essential "humint" (human intelligence). Here's where the Iraq war comes in again. The sooner we beef up our intelligence, the sooner we crack the insurgency and get to bring our troops home. What does it say to the people doing the painstaking work of building those spy networks when the identity of one of their own becomes just another weapon in the partisan wars of Washington?
And this is the connection to the phrase "political capital". Whoever leaked this information considered the balance between the damage caused by outing Plame and damage Wilson could cause by being vocal about his opinions that Bush's information was bad. They decided Bush was more important than the law and the integrity of security clearance.
But IT"S NOT MONEY, PEOPLE!!! If Bush was wrong, then he was wrong, and you don't get to decide to break the law to make him seem more right at some "cost". The fact that everything in a capitalist country has its (possibly acceptable) monetary price does not translate into a political system, where every potential move has its (possibly acceptable) political price.
Illegal outing of a CIA agent and putting people's lives in danger is. not. acceptable. ever. Not for saving Bush's reputation. Not for getting back at a pesky Wilson. Not for anything. It's illegal, immoral, and in my little version of the world, unpatriotic.