Surely he meant that as an insult
I'd say more as a criticism. It's not praise, but not a very strong condemnation -- or maybe it's both.
Brooks is ambivalent about Obama, and not really sure what side he's on or should be on. One part of David Brooks sees that Obama doesn't really connect with people and isn't really effective in governing, and another part in a way admires Obama's aloofness.
Brooks is a UChicago grad who fancies himself an intellectual and he sees Obama as his alter ego and projects qualities he wants to see in himself on Obama. David Brooks is never going to condemn Obama as harshly as others do, because he has too much emotionally invested in his identification with the president.
It's also another version of the Adlai Stevenson or Eugene McCarthy thing. Realist Brooks sees that those politicians weren't effective or particularly capable, but idealist Brooks loves the "too good for this world" meme and the satisfaction it gives him.
He DID mean it as an insult. He said (to paraphrase)...”that’s the way Obama behaves...like he’s morally superior to everyone.”