Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Seating Chart

Some reporters were unhappy with their treatment at President Obama’s news conference Monday. Many correspondents from major outlets — who normally have front row seats — did not. A reporter from the liberal Huffington Post and liberal radio host Ed Schultz were on the front row. Two reporters from African-American media were also seated up front, but neither was called on.

Hazel Edney of the National Newspaper Publishers Association says, "We were nothing more than window dressing."

Tiffany Cross of Black Entertainment Television said "I really don't know why I’m up here."

Former correspondent Helen Thomas — who lost her front row perch when she became a columnist — was back in first class and was one of only 13 reporters allowed to ask a question.

President Obama said during the session that the stimulus contained "not a single pet project. Not a single earmark."

Calvin Woodward of the Associated Press concedes that is technically true but writes "some of the projects bear the prime characteristics of pork — tailored to benefit specific interests or to have thinly disguised links to local projects."

He cites $2 billion for hybrid car batteries and $10 million for urban canals... not to mention $198 million for Filipino veterans — two-thirds of whom live outside the U.S.

Shovel Ready

As Brian Wilson mentioned earlier, we've heard a lot of talk about "shovel ready" projects in the stimulus. But a civil engineering professor at Cal-Berkeley questions whether requiring projects to start within just a few months of the bill's passage is a good idea.

He tells Popular Mechanics magazine, "If you want to patch some potholes in the road, this is a good program. But if you're hoping for anything long-term with this approach, throw away all hope. It can't happen."

The magazine says the projects that do qualify are mostly ones that are unambitious, outdated or irrelevant.

Leadership Issues

And Democratic Congressman Heath Shuler of North Carolina says his party's failure to pursue a bipartisan compromise on the stimulus has eroded the program's credibility. And he is singling out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"I truly feel that's where maybe House leadership and Senate leadership have really failed."

So how did Senator Reid’s spokesman respond to the criticism? By slamming Shuler's record as a professional football player.

Jim Manley e-mailed The Politico newspaper, "Let me get this straight — this is coming from a guy who threw more than twice as many interceptions than touchdowns?"

The statement did defend the stimulus as a bipartisan bill. But it ended by pointing out that Shuler has been rated the fourth biggest draft bust in NFL history. Manley does not explain why Shuler's performance in the NFL is relevant to the stimulus package.

— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.