Alternate headline: Joe Biden becomes a Tea Party activist. Even ABC’s Rick Klein felt the need to point out the obvious after the Vice President’s Labor Day speech called out for supporters to “take back America.” Take it back from whom?

Vice President Joe Biden figures to be quite the draw for Democrats this fall, behind perhaps only a few people named Clinton, and maybe one named Warren, as the Democrat other Democrats want alongside them to help them in closely contested elections. To that end, Biden’s rousing Labor Day speech in Detroit is worth paying attention to. “It’s time to take back America,” said the man who’s been vice president of the United States for almost six years.

There are two ways to read this, and neither one of them are particularly positive for Biden or the administration he serves. First, “taking back America” usually refers to kicking the party in power in the shins, and right now that’s the Democrats. Biden’s party controls the Senate, and in case Biden hasn’t noticed (which may be possible), the White House as well. “Taking back America” is a call to punish that power structure, not to endorse it.

The other way to read this is a call to take back America from powerful special interests, which is more what Biden means here. But again, Biden and Barack Obama have had almost six years to do that, and Democrats have controlled the Senate since the 2006 midterms eight years ago. What did they do with that opportunity? Well, they created a command economy in health insurance and forced Americans to buy expensive policies whether they needed them or not. And … that’s about it. They’ve presided over a set of economic policies which has produced the weakest post-recession recovery ever, which makes people even more vulnerable to powerful special interests, and which has stifled the kind of innovation and start-up competition that might challenge that establishment.

This is why running on a populist message in the sixth year of an administration is a bad idea. Taking back America is an explicit call to punish the man who’s making this very call.

Alternate alternate headline: The Vice President is a racist:

Noah ripped Holder for this assertion in July for playing the race card on a phrase which has a long tradition in American politics and populism. On the other hand, maybe it was a fortuitous declaration in the long run. Perhaps someone will ask the Attorney General on camera whether the Vice President is racist for saying this, or just monumentally foolish. There doesn’t seem to be a third choice here.