I was thinking that a man who cannot speak coherently or appropriately without a teleprompter has very little business snarking at people with disabilities.Obama's mistake is in one way not serious, yet in another, very serious indeed. People misspeak. In searching for negative comparisons, we necessarily have to imply something lacking about someone else. Trying to describe something negative about AIG executives, Obama compared them to suicide bombers. We object to that for the opposite reason, because suicide bombers are generally agreed to have some important part of their humanity lacking, and the comparison with business executives who may or may not be responsible for a company's failure seems a bit much. Al Gore referred to the Taliban wing of the Republican Party, and at a different time, the double-chromosome portion of his opposition.* When you make a comparison for dramatic effect, you are likely to offend on one side of the equation. People make such incautious statements all the time, because they don't have a finely-distinctive repertoire of negatives to draw from. Which is a good thing.
Once you are aware of an issue, however, you become protective of the feelings of that group, especially if it touches you in some way. We cannot all be always aware of every possible offense, but we try to decently avoid offense. As so many people have been protective on Obama's behalf along racial lines this past year, to the point of ludicrous overinterpretation of nonracial comments, he might set himself the task of being especially careful about giving offense. But no, that is beyond him, I believe. He is very quick to insult whole categories of others. It is revealing that this protectiveness, required of leaders of nations rather than interest groups, does not occur to him. He doesn't dislike kids at Special Olympics - when he thinks of them, I'm sure he wishes them well and hopes they succeed.
But he doesn't think of them. They aren't a star group of victims, because you can't blame their problems on his political opponents. They aren't on his radar. They don't matter. (They matter now, of course. Look for some high-profile event where he says something nice and gives them money. Government money, of course, not his.) It's just a group of people he thinks should be given money and then go away.
*Tangentially, I think Gore was not reaching for a Down's Syndrome reference there, but to Klinefelder Syndrome, which was once thought to be implicated in hypermasculine, violent, learning-impaired behavior. Which wouldn't have been any better, but would have offended fewer people.