When she appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this month, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice found herself in a pissing match with Sen. Chuck Hagel over the correct term for sending 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq. Hagel called it an "ecalation." Rice said that neither she nor the president thought of it that way. Hagel shot back: "Would you call it a decrease?" Rice's response: "I would call it, senator, an augmentation that allows the Iraqis to deal with this very serious problem they have in Baghdad."
"Escalation" vs. "augmentation" wouldn't seem like the most important distinction in the world, but it apparently mattered to Rice -- and now, it seems, it's making a difference to a few U.S. senators. As CNN reports, Republican Sens. John Warner and Susan Collins and Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson plan to introduce today a resolution on Bush's new Iraq plan. Like the resolution sponsored by Hagel and the Democratic leadership, the Warner-Collins-Nelson measure will criticize Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq. But where the original resolution calls the move an "escalation," the Warner-Collins-Nelson measure chooses the kinder, gentler term "augmentation."
"The other resolution was a real thumb in the eye to the president," a source familiar with the Warner-Collins-Nelson draft tells CNN. "Our goal is to make the same point but get 60-65 votes, not 51 or 52."