This video for some reason reminded me of that famous moment when the Romanian tyrant Nicolae Ceaucescu, several minutes into what turned out to be his last ever public speech, was suddenly interrupted by a crescendo of jeers and whistling from his formerly placid subjects. The doomed dictator could do nothing but stand frozen on the balcony with a stunned look on his face as his aides darted around in terrified confusion. This turned out to be a decisive moment in history – Ceaucescu and his even more unpleasant first lady would soon be brought before the firing squad – and it was caused by a mere change in crowd psychology, spontaneous and unexpected, as fear turned to defiance and then contempt.
Obama’s tin-eared gaffe, which was rewarded with a derisive groan from the audience, will probably not lead to his and his wife’s execution by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. However, this moment has encapsulated a very real change in public sentiment. Obama started out as a messiah-like figure whose very presence, with the help of his deep masculine baritone, would work miracles for the American public; now he is justly an object of ridicule.