In the fall of 2006 right after then Sen. Barack Obama announced to Tim Russert on Meet the Press he was seriously considering a run for the nomination of the Democratic Party for president, thousands of reporters, journalists, bloggers and intellectuals flooded book stores for copies of his two books, “Dreams of my Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.”

For two years they intellectualized about his life story and world view, picked apart every carefully crafted sentence, and marveled at their ability to really get inside the head of this exotic man who might become president.

They wrote breathlessly of the stories he has recounted in his books and “how much it told them about him.”

They praised his political ascent — “an impression of ease, if not exactly effortlessness, that obscures a more complex amalgam of drive, ambition, timing and the ability to recognize an opportunity and to do what it takes to seize it,” wrote the New York Times.

Obama’s books defined his public image in a large part because the political class gushed and plowed their way through his words for insights into the candidate; who was he? Was there evidence in his words that pointed to the central promise of his campaign? Could he of all people reconcile a divided country?

It literally was the most vetted book in American politics.

Donald Trump’s “The Art of the Deal”? Not so much. Which is a shame because any reporter who read the book before embarking on covering this presidential candidate, eventual nominee and now president-elect would have a much deeper understanding of who he is, how he operates and how he’ll behave going forward.

Written nearly 30 years ago (along with Tony Schwartz) it is just as revealing as Obama’s was, in terms of insights into the way this man thinks, his experiences and how he approaches business.

It serves as a blue-print for how he ran his campaign. Consider this excerpt:

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“My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward. I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after. Sometimes I settle for less than I sought, but in most cases I still end up with what I want.”

Those two sentences pretty much were the boiler-plate for what Trump did during the early part of the campaign, when he was trying to set himself apart from the seventeen other primary candidates standing beside him on the stage.

He never had their qualifications, he was never part of their club and he had never run and lost or run and won, so he negotiated himself right into the imagination of voters.

He told voters he was the best, and would be the best president to negotiate deals, build walls and bring back jobs. Throughout the book, he is always negotiating, no matter if he was coming from a full truth or not, didn’t matter. It is always about the value of what is at stake.

In that type of barter, truthfulness becomes irrelevant, it only has actuality if the deal is struck and the facts come out.

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Voters understood that.

They never took his statements exactly, but they did take them earnestly. They never really expected a massive wall, or massive deportations, but they did expect him to have their back, their voice, and their interest at heart.

Like Trump, they did not get too attached to everything he said he would do, they understood he was juggling different ways of approaching a problem and if he could not make one of his promises work, he’d make another promise, until something finally worked. Until a deal was finally met.

Think Carrier. First he didn’t even remember that he promised he would save all the manufacturing jobs in Indiana at the air conditioning-heating plant. But he picked-up the phone when he was reminded, made some negotiations and soon more than half of the jobs were saved.

An approach that backs up this passage:

“For starters, I keep a lot of balls in the air, because most deals fall out, no matter how promising they seem at first. In addition, once I’ve made a deal, I always come up with at least a half dozen approaches to making it work, because anything can happen, even to the best-laid plans.”

Which is why voters give him so much flexibility when he changes his mind on issues, when you are a negotiator, all of the chips are on the table, including ideologies, which is why his candidacy has always been relatively absent ideology.

The other thing that Trump fundamentally understood about voters is that people love to believe they can be part of something bigger than themselves, that they are part of something big, something bigger than them, which is why “Make America great again” worked.

All you had to do was read this passage and you would have understood that:

“People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.”

If the political class hard bothered to read Trump’s book with the same gusto that they read Obama’s they would have had Trump’s entire strategy at their fingertips. Certainly they would not have carelessly dismissed it as they initially did, and certainly they may have used his own creed when it comes to pollsters:

“I like to think that I have that instinct. That’s why I don’t hire a lot of number-crunchers, and I don’t trust fancy marketing surveys. I do my own surveys and draw my own conclusions.”

And for those who think he does understand that there are boundaries and limitations to the goodwill people are willing to extend, this might change your mind:

“You can’t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion, you can get all kinds of press … but if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.”

As the transition winds down and his presidency begins, read “The Art of the Deal,” not because it is particularly good or bad, but because it will give you an insight into who our next president will be, like him or not. Knowledge about anyone is power.

Salena Zito is a columnist for the Washington Examiner.

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