He most certainly did perjure himself. But the point is that Alberto Gonzales didn't have to. It's been said countless times that Attorney Generals serve at the pleasure of the President. The President can fire an AG just because they don't like the way he or she looks. Or because the AG isn't carrying out the President's adgenda. Or for whatever reason.
Why, when pressed, couldn't Alberto make this seemingly simple case? This whole issue could have been put to rest with a few straight words. In fact, Alberto could have used the opportunity to chastise a vehement and overreaching legislature for even bothering to ask the question. But he didn't. When asked, he offered that he was not directly involved in the firings (which he was) and that the firings were related to performance issues (which was sort of true). Six of the eight fired had positive performance appraisals leading up to the firings, although there is a difference between job performance, and what Bush would consider loyal activities by his own staff, arguably a different kind of performance.
After lying about his involvement, and being unclear regarding the reasoning behind the firings, the Democrats have seized upon the issue to great effect. While the President had every right to fire any AG he wished (or Gonzales by proxy), Gonzales had no right to lie to Congress. And clearly he did.
The problem with Alberto is that he was too stupid or negligent to cite to appropriate laws and make a statement based on principle. Instead he lied.
The other problem with Alberto is that were Bush to actually remove him from office, Bush would truly become the lame duck that so many Democrats cast him to be.
It's not that I like Gonzales. I can't stand him. While technically, he did nothing wrong, he did give the Democrats fuel to add to the anti-Bush fire. Average Americans don't know whether Gonzales did anything illegal, but what they do know is that the media and Congress are endlessly talking about perjury. I bet that if most Americans were polled, they'd respond that firing AGs is illegal.
It would sound as if I am making the case for a Gonzales exit. And I would be if it were not the final year of the Bush presidency. With Gonzales gone, there won't be anyone to step up to the plate. There won't be anyone who will be loyal to Bush and staunchly defend his agenda, as Gonzales would with nothing to lose. With our country at a crucial time in the War in Iraq and the overall War on Terror, a lobotomized adminitration with no ability to push through new laws might delight a rabid Democratic legislature, but it would be really bad for the American people.
Politics isn't always about what is right. It's also sometimes about what sounds right. And in this case, the top lawyer in the land could not defend himself against a case about what was well within his rights. And as a result, he is defending himself in the court of public opinion, based not on violations of the law, but his own violations of stupidity.