U.S. SEN. Bob Casey Jr. is not the first to confront this question: With political allies like Ed Rendell, who needs enemies?

Casey is just the latest.

Pennsylvania's former governor grumbled this week to the Scranton Times-Tribune that Casey is running a "non-campaign" for a second term against Tom Smith, a former coal-company owner from Armstrong County who has dumped $16.5 million of his own money into the race.

To be fair, Rendell has a point.

Casey has been running variations of one campaign ad on television, casting Smith as a radical tea-party guy who wants to privatize Social Security and convert Medicare into a voucher program.

Rendell called that ad "stupid," not because of its content but because that is the sum and total of Casey's air war on Smith.

Smith has a healthy rotation of campaign commercials - some touting his business skills, others attacking Casey - and is outspending Casey on television.

Casey on Thursday laughed off Rendell's rant, calling him a "good friend" who has been "enormously helpful" on the campaign.

Rendell later told Clout he is sure that Casey will prevail, explaining that internal polling by President Obama's campaign in Pennsylvania shows Casey leading Smith by 10 percentage points.

Polling in this race has been chaotic for more than a week. Of four public polls, two gave Casey a double-digit lead and two showed the race too close to call.

Rendell said that Casey "may be marshalling his resources" for the closing days of the campaign. Against a self-funder like Smith, Rendell said, that was smart.

This is a complicated relationship: Rendell beat Casey in the heated 2002 Democratic primary election for governor, but then helped him defeat U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum in 2006.

Casey made low-key campaign swings through Pittsburgh and Erie on Wednesday and met with reporters in Philly on Thursday.

Casey said that he was "not a bit surprised" that Smith invested so much in the campaign or that Smith outraised him in contributions from July 1 to Sept. 30.

"He has a national tea-party following and a hard-right following that has all kinds of money," said Casey, describing the more than 500 fundraisers that he has held to stay competitive. "A lot of folks in the political community, and I would include in that reporters, don't seem to have any sense of how challenging this is."

Casey said that he would "rather have a more traditional campaign, where you spend more time talking directly to voters."

Casey's lackluster campaign is playing right into Smith's effort to cast him as "Senator Zero," an ineffective career politician.

Another politician missing in action in Pennsylvania may unexpectedly be helping Smith.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney seems to have forfeited his chance to win this state, despite his claims three weeks ago during a rare visit here.

Smith would be obligated to appear if Romney was staging campaign events in Pennsylvania. That would expose Smith to a much brighter media spotlight.

Having seen that performance, Clout can tell you that Smith comes off much better in his well-crafted television commercials.

That makes next Friday's lone debate between Casey and Smith must-see TV. The debate will be taped by 6ABC that day and aired Sunday, Oct. 28 at 1 p.m.

Scalia laments the 17th

While the Casey-Smith match-up is the most interesting political race in the Nov. 6 general election, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wishes it wouldn't even appear on the ballot.

Scalia, speaking Monday to the Philadelphia Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society, at the Union League, lamented the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which in 1913 gave voters the power to elect senators.

Before that, members of the U.S. Senate were selected by leaders of their state's legislatures.

"The protection for the states in the Constitution, and it shows why you shouldn't tinker with the document, was the fact that the states used to own the Senate," Scalia said. "It was not elected by the people. It was elected by the governments of the states."

Repealing the 17th Amendment has been a popular issue with teaparty groups. Scalia said he doubts that will ever happen.

The amendment was passed 99 years ago because of rampant corruption in state governments.

The more things change . . .

Two former speakers of the state House, a Democrat and a Republican, are in state prison right now for corruption convictions.

The former top Democrat on the state Senate Appropriations Committee is in federal prison. The former Senate Democratic leader is due to be sentenced on corruption charges next month.