Choose your enemies carefully

Ezra has an interesting point about Eliot Spitzer:

John Heilemann makes the point that Spitzer couldn't survive his political scandal because there were no enemies he could use to rally the troops. No Linda Tripp, no Ken Starr, no Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. In politics, picking your enemies is a helluva skill. Find odious enough assailants, and your supporters will want so badly to foil them that they'll accept just about anything from you. What happened to Spitzer is that, without enemies to beat, he became the party's enemy. His presence would've dragged down their efforts to take back the Senate in the 2008 elections and given the Republicans a potent counterissue. So he had to go.



I think that's true--but I think that it's also worth noting that Eliot Spitzer didn't have any friends. He tried to use the same tactics as governor that had worked for him as attorney general, and they backfired badly. Prosecutors spend most of their time in negotiations where they hold most of the cards, while newbie governors need to spend a lot of time sucking up to interest groups and other politicians in order to build a coalition.

That's why when it all blew up, the only person on television defending him was Alan Dershowitz. Hillary was never going to go to bat for him, but why didn't we see lesser lights of the Democratic party suggesting that hey, guys, this wasn't really so bad--or at least trotting out the tired old saws about what a tragedy this was for the family? The Republicans did better by Larry Craig.