From an interview in the Los Angeles Review of Books by Kelly Candaele of John Heilemann, New York magazine's main political correspondent.
KC: You say that Obama doesn’t like needing people. Other than a normal feeling that many people have of not liking to ask for things, what is that about?
JH: Obama is an unusual politician. There are very few people in American politics who achieve something — not to mention the Presidency —in which the following two conditions are true: one, they don’t like people. And two, they don’t like politics.
KC: Obama doesn’t like people?
JH: I don’t think he doesn’t like people. I know he doesn’t like people. He’s not an extrovert; he’s an introvert. I’ve known the guy since 1988. He’s not someone who has a wide circle of friends. He’s not a backslapper and he’s not an arm-twister. He’s a more or less solitary figure who has extraordinary communicative capacities. He’s incredibly intelligent, but he’s not a guy who’s ever had a Bill Clinton-like network around him. He’s not the guy up late at night working the speed dial calling mayors, calling governors, calling CEOs. People say about Obama that it’s a mistake that he hasn’t reached out more to Republicans on Capitol Hill. I say that may be a mistake, but he also hasn’t reached out to Democrats on Capitol Hill. If you walk around [the convention] and button-hole any Democratic Senator you find on the street and ask them how many times they have received a call [from the President] to talk about politics, to talk about legislative strategy, I guarantee you won’t find a lot of people who have gotten one phone call in the last two and a half years. And many of them have never been called.
I’m not a psychologist, so I don’t know what the root of that is. People have theories about it. But I know in practice he is a guy who likes to operate with a very tight circle around him, trusts very few people easily or entirely. He ran his campaign that way in 2008, he runs his White House that way, and he’s running his campaign that way in 2012. President Obama just doesn’t talk to too many people.
One totally unshocking revelation in Bob Woodward's new book is that the June 2011 "golf summit" where Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner played golf together helped the two men forge a personal bond. That's ... what people always tell you golf is for, isn't it? The number of rounds of golf the President has played (104 at last count) is hardly excessive -- when healthy Eisenhower would come close to that number in one year -- but Eisenhower played with big shots to forge personal ties. Obama almost always plays with junior staffers.