Last Saturday the First Couple jetted off to New York for dinner and a play. Normally this would be no big deal. Presidents travel. They are humans and need an occasional break. There is no way for them to do this without costing the taxpayers something. Also, they took a Gulfstream instead of Air Force One which saved the taxpayers some money.
The thing is, this is the same president who scolded a bank that had accepted TARP funds for holding an annual convention in Los Vegas. He implied that in the future, the government would be watching all companies to see if they were spending too much or spending it on something that gave the wrong appearance. By some estimates, this scolding cost the State of Nevada $100 million in convention business. The Governor of Nevada has asked for an apology (is still waiting).
So, by criticizing other people's travel, Obama put himself in a different category. He could just as easily have stayed in DC and taken in a performance at the Kennedy Center. He set the bar himself by saying that banks that received government funds had to avoid even the appearance of wasting taxpayer's money. He didn't follow his own directives.
There is also a matter of timing. 36 hours after his trip GM announced plant closings, something that the Obama administration is part of. The image of the First Couple going on a date night as thousands of workers are waiting to hear if they will keep their jobs is unusually tone-deaf for this administration.