The only showdown that mattered happened months ago. Democrats passed a war appropriation that funded the phased withdrawal of troops. Bush vetoed that appropriation and said he would only sign an appropriation that funded open-ended war. Bush sought to portray a congressional refusal to appropriate money for an open-ended military involvement in Iraq as some kind of plot to leave the troops starving and without bullets in Iraq. The press largely bought into this frame, which was re-enforced by the fact that many leading Democrats immediately decided to buy into as well. The party then decided not to try to fight to reframe the issue but, instead, to accept it. Given that framing of the question, the only thing to do was surrender and give Bush his money. And given that precedent, the only thing to do is to keep on surrendering any time Bush rhetorically holds the troops' well-being hostage to his preference for perpetual war.
That was a blunder -- a decision that condemned hundreds of Americans to die in Iraq -- and one that appears to have resulted from a total failure of the leadership to do any advance planning about their legislative tactics. All of September 2007 has been a meaningless sideshow. People find it comforting, I guess, to try to convince themselves that MoveOn is the reason our troops will be engaged in at least 18 more months of futile combat in Iraq, but it's just not true -- legislative defeat in September was inevitable, and the war is still very unpopular and still a very promising issue for 2008.
Indeed. All of this was utterly predictable last Spring, and blindingly obvious by August. If people want to pretend that fake media controversies which didn't move public opinion in the slightest are the reason that they're failing to do the jobs they were elected to do they're welcome to do that, but they just reveal themselves to be petty childish mediocrities with fragile egos who don't want to take responsibility for their own failures.