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Larry Summers Code-Pinked in Washington

The boisterous protest group Code Pink picked a new target today: White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers, The Post's Lori Montgomery reports.

Summers was answering questions about the U.S. recession before a packed luncheon hosted by the Economic Club of Washington this afternoon when two protesters -- a man and a woman -- wearing hot pink buttons ran onstage at the J.W. Marriott hotel and unfurled a large pink banner behind Summers's head. "We want our $$$ back," it read.

Summers (seated, left, below) looked rather glum as the woman, the more voluble of the pair, shouted that Summers "is part of the problem. He's a toxic mess!" And "$5.2 million this man made working one day a week!"

summers_codepink2.JPG

That was a reference to Summers's pay last year from the hedge fund he advised, the details of which were released by the White House late Friday. Summers was by far the most highly paid of several formerly well-compensated White House officials.

It was not immediately clear why Summers's compensation would so offend Code Pink, but the group has demonstrated repeatedly against the kind of Wall Street bailouts Summers has been hired to engineer.

Code Pink protested a speech earlier this week in Washington by Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein and has been a fixture at Hill hearings on the economic crisis, repeatedly interrupting hearings held by House Financial Services Committee chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who has threatened them with ejection from his hearing room.

The fact that the two Code Pink protesters showed up today in black suits -- rather than their customary pink shirts -- represents a change in tactic, as they appear to be attempting to fit into their surroundings, rather than standing out from them, until they can spring their protest.

Code Pink has been protesting government actions of all stripes for at least the past five years, stretching back to 2004, when it picketed the FCC to oppose media ownership consolidation.

After several long, uncomfortable moments at today's Summers protest, men in dark suits finally hurried to the front of the room, grabbed the banner and led the protesters away. Moderator and club president David Rubenstein (seated, right, above), managing director of the Carlyle Group private equity firm, hardly missed a beat.

After all you've accomplished in academia and other fields, Rubenstein asked Summers, "Do you ever have second thoughts about coming back to Washington?"

The crowd laughed. Summers smiled. "There are moments that are more pleasant than others," he said to applause.

(Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

-- Frank Ahrens
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By Frank Ahrens  |  April 9, 2009; 3:29 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Code Pink, Larry Summers, Lloyd Blankfein  
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