Then again, Ed Rendell has long contended he has no friends outside work. Just as he has argued he has no life.
Hah! He has a huge life. Rendell doesn't do quiet. Although he's separating from political office and wife, he's attaching himself to every job in sight: newspaper columnist, television commentator, lawyer, professor, investment adviser, visiting fellow, memoirist. He's Brand Ed.
Compare Rendell to successor Tom Corbett. Inaugurated Jan. 18, Gov. Garbo has been a man of shockingly few words and public appearances. Staffers say he's scouring the budget to eliminate the projected $4 billion deficit.
Corbett has held two news conferences in two months, one before taking office. Rendell could do that in one morning, then find time to phone and scold certain reporters with some choice words. Not that we speak from experience.
Corbett's news conference Tuesday was the first of his administration, where he tapped Allegheny County's Linda Kelly to succeed him as state attorney general, presumably to prosecute more Democratic state legislators.
Over the weekend, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette caught up with the governor in Dallas for the Super Bowl, where Silent Tom was less voluble than his spouse, Susan, who spoke "first-lady smack" with the Wisconsin governor's wife.
In an unprecedented move, Corbett made a bold public announcement - "Steelers over Packers, 31-28" - that just happened to be wrong.
An elected official can be out and about so publicly that we believe he isn't governing at all. We wonder: How can he perform the duties of the post and attend so many ribbon cuttings and chicken dinners?
A peripatetic, too-public official can make citizens queasy. But disappearing for weeks at a time makes people nervous, too. Such behavior appears imperious and distant - Nixonian.
In the current political climate, we treasure transparency. It helps voters feel informed, connected, especially as they wait to see what huge budget cuts Corbett is going to make. His absence is like hide-and-seek. It would be nice to be prepared. "He's not a publicity hound," former campaign manager Brian Nutt said of Corbett. "It's substance over show." As the governor's press secretary, Kevin Harley, added, "He's not enamored by the sound of his own voice. When he has something substantive to say, he'll say it."
This would seem to be governor smack at Rendell. But first impressions matter. The perception people have, even members of his own party, is of Corbett's being separate from the voters, not of them.
Rendell never had this problem. His life has been the stuff of gossip, as much tabloid as government record. At times, he seemed to revel in the constant innuendo, dating back to his days as Philadelphia's district attorney. And Rendell was reckless, too. He was seen far too frequently in the company of beautiful women who were not his wife.
Last year, Rendell posed with leggy former Miss and Mrs. Pennsylvania, and Mrs. American Dream, Kirstin Snow. Her arms rested on his shoulder in a Philadelphia Magazine photo that seemed, confoundingly, licentious yet straight out of Sears Portrait Studio. All that was missing were the golden retrievers.
"You know, like a lot of people in politics, I get hit on by women all the time," Rendell boasted at the time. "There are political groupies just like there are sports groupies. I got hit on when I was 260 [pounds] every bit as much as when I'm 200." The public may live for such confessions. A wife? Probably not so much.
How much of a public official's private life is our business? A lot, if a sitting governor hires prostitutes and breaks the law, as New York's Eliot Spitzer did, especially after he vigorously prosecuted prostitution rings as state attorney general. Hypocrisy has no statute of limitations.
The drama of Rendell's life has long played out in that gossipy twilight where people assume they know what is going on in a famous person's marriage, but don't necessarily have a clue. Now that he's separating from his wife, we still don't know much. Speculation begins anew.
And so people are talking more about the former governor than the largely silent man who has taken his place. It's as though Rendell never left the stage.
Contact columnist Karen Heller at 215-854-2586 or firstname.lastname@example.org.