Why not? Why aren't those opposed to the war in Iraq, those who want to bring the troops home immediately, those who won last November's referendum on Iraq, why aren't they pushing through laws to force the president's hand? Unfortunately, most in Congress are much more interested in ensuring their own reelection than they are about actually changing things on the ground. It took more than 10 years and 57,000 casualties for Congress to muster the nerve to cut off funding for the Vietnam War, and it only did so after the troops had already come home. Our elected officials are terrified that if they go on record with a vote to bring US soldiers home they'll be branded as not supporting the troops which will hurt them in the next election. Furthermore, going on the non-binding record makes it possible to play both sides of the coin: If the surge works, they can't be blamed for opposing it; if it fails, they can point to the vote and say "see, I was against it all along." This all too common a pattern when Congress becomes involved in foreign policy, and goes a long way to explaining why the presidency has become so dominant in foreign affairs. Congress simply lacks the guts and spine to do what has to be done.
Where is the courage of their convictions?
UPDATE: Terry Michael, a former press secretary for the Democratic National Committee, wonders the same thing:
Take Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware. "There's not much I can do about it," responded the Democratic "leader" on foreign policy, when asked on one of the Sunday venues for pompous pontificators how he would respond to any attempt by President Bush to escalate the war in Iraq (or "surge," if you prefer it in Orwellian newspeak).
This is a man who sees a future president during his morning look in the mirror. Sadly, the glass reflects an empty suit who embodies the congressional Democrats' decision to reduce action on Iraq to a political calculus appropriate for the highway appropriations bill, rather than as a moral imperative to challenge a policy that has sent thousands of twenty-somethings to their deaths in the desert.
You certainly can do something about it, Senator. It's called leadership. You rise on the Senate floor. You say you were out of your mind to write a blank check for this hideous misprojection of American military power. And then you propose immediate withdrawal, just slow enough to maximize the safety of the 135,000 mostly young men and women you helped put in harm's way by your collusion with this elective war. You do what Republican Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon had the guts to do last month, stopping just short of accurately labeling this public policy obscenity a criminal enterprise.