Lewis "Scooter" Libby may not serve prison time. But President Bush's commutation of his 30-month sentence won't relieve him of his scapegoat status.
When the Bush administration foolishly and pettily tried to strike back at Iraq War critic Joe Wilson and his CIA-employee wife Valerie Plame by revealing her identity, it was Scooter Libby who fell on the sword.
All the president's commutation has done is move the sword away from a major organ.
Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, should never have committed perjury or obstructed justice or lied to investigators in the probe over the leak of Plame's name. But the Bush administration should never have put him in that position and left him to twist in the wind.
If the administration wanted to combat Wilson's claim that Saddam Hussein wasn't attempting to purchase uranium, it could have done so in a forthright manner. Instead, it chose an underhanded partisan shot that ricocheted and hit Libby.
The thing is, the revealing of Plame's name - which no one has ever been charged with doing - wasn't the national security issue Democrats tried to make it out to be. There's no evidence it compromised anything or anyone of national security significance.
So the Bush administration - and Libby most of all - is suffering the stigma of scandal not so much over what they did but how they did it.
Future administrations should learn from this overblown episode: Be up front about the public's business.
And when you aren't, don't throw loyal crewmen overboard and think you can just pluck them out of the sea later.