Can O’Malley crank up the liberal rhetoric on the campaign trail? On Twitter, a number of smart commentators pointed out that Howard Dean had been fairly moderate as governor of Vermont before launching a very liberal campaign for president.

Never mind that Dean lost the 2004 campaign or that he now endorses Clinton for president, the O’Malley-Dean comparison falls flat for another key reason: O’Malley has no signature issue to run to Clinton’s left on. Where Dean had the Iraq War (like Obama four years later), O’Malley has a giant question mark. Maybe it’s Wall Street reform, which O’Malley has been talking up recently in light of Clinton’s supposedly cozy connections with the financial sector?

Remember, 36 percent of Democratic voters thought the Iraq War was the biggest problem at this point 12 years ago. By the summer of 2003, 62 percent of them opposed the invasion. Today, 56 percent of Democrats have heard little to nothing about the Occupy Wall Street movement, which at its heart is about the government’s connection to the financial sector. Most Democrats either don’t support its general goals or have no feeling toward it, let alone believe it’s the most important issue.