The last time we saw a handwritten message from George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice had just passed him a note informing him that sovereignty had been transferred to the people of Iraq. The president wrote -- or so we were told -- "Let freedom reign!"
Freedom is reigning all right -- at least 160 people were killed in Iraq yesterday, and 31 more have died already today -- and it's raining all over the president's parade. A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll has Bush's approval rating at 40 percent, the lowest it has recorded for his presidency.
And now there's what appears to be another handwritten message from the president. During yesterday's session at the United Nations, the president of the United States wrote a note to his secretary of state. It said: "I think I MAY NEED A BATHroom break?" The wide shot is here, the close-up is here, and the question is this: Would a major news agency -- in this case, Reuters -- have moved such a photo if the president weren't already so diminished?
George W. Bush may be learning a lesson about the press that both his predecessor and his father learned before him: Sometimes, when it rains, it pours.