TRYING TO CHANGE THE SUBJECT…. In the midst of a crisis on Wall Street, with the two remaining investment banks disappearing, the debate in Congress over a $700 billion bailout package underway, and with a presidential debate on foreign policy just days away, the McCain campaign unveiled a new television ad this morning … about Tony Rezko.

And not just Rezko, but all kinds of characters in Chicago, including Mayor Daley’s brother and state Sen. Emil Jones. In a textbook case of logically-dubious guilt by association, the ad concludes, “With friends like that, Obama is not ready to lead.”

Seriously. That’s the new message from the McCain campaign.

Let’s not forget, just a few weeks ago, McCain’s campaign manager, former lobbyist Rick Davis, said, “This election is not about the issues.” Over the last week or so, the election has been entirely about the issues, and McCain’s lead in the polls suddenly evaporated. The goal, then, for the McCain campaign, has to be to find a way to distract voters and the political world in general from the issues that matter, and back onto nonsense that doesn’t.

To that end, Jonathan Martin described the new ad as a form of “‘Hey, look over here!’ politics.”

McCain’s campaign knows they have to shift the debate away from one solely focused on the near-collapse of the economy on the watch of a Republican administration. […]

Now, as the crisis continues to dominate the news, they’re trying to resurrect stories about Obama’s ties to some unsavory figures in Chicago politics.

In other words, the new McCain pitch, as of this morning, is effectively, “Does anybody want to talk about Rezko again? Please? Hello? Is this thing on?”

The message is so out of touch and politically tone deaf, I suspect there are plenty of Dems this morning hoping this isn’t just another video press release, and that the McCain campaign actually starts pushing this line aggressively. It’s likely to make McCain look far worse than Obama.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.