Obama finds refuge among close friends on vacation

By ERICA WERNER | August 26, 2011 | 1:10 PM EDT

President Barack Obama, right, shares a golf cart with Eric Whitaker, left, while playing golf at the Mink Meadows Golf Club in Vineyard Haven, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. (AP) — They golf with him, they vacation with him, their kids and his kids hang out. To them, he's Barack, not Mr. President. He can tease and be teased back.

President Obama's circle of close friends has sustained him through good times and bad since his days in Chicago. They've been with him during a Martha's Vineyard vacation ending Friday.

For a powerful leader who nonetheless may have one of the loneliest jobs, Obama regards his closest buddies as a second family. Eric Whitaker, Martin Nesbitt and Valerie Jarrett form the core.

As Jarrett puts it, Obama has built up a trust with friends that has stood the test of time. For one thing, he need not worry that they will spill the beans on details of his getaway.