What the hell is Andrew Cuomo doing?

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images News/Getty Images

You've really gotta hand it to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the sheer, uncut, rocket-grade hubris it takes to publish a book touting his "leadership lessons" from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, even as each successive episode in New York State's battle against the virus has shown just how catastrophically bad Cuomo's actual response had been. (By the way: You do not, actually, have to hand it to him.)

A new report from New York State Attorney General Letitia James suggests that nursing home deaths may have been undercounted by as much as half, and that homes' "lack of compliance with infection control protocols put residents at increased risk of harm, and facilities that had lower pre-pandemic staffing ratings had higher COVID-19 fatality rates."

James's report is the latest in a long line of revelations over just how poorly Cuomo actually handled a pandemic that has likely irrevocably changed how people live — and die — in their communities.

Consider that on Friday, Cuomo announced that in two weeks, New York City restaurants will be allowed to reopen for indoor dining at 25% capacity, while at the same time restaurant workers are still ineligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine, which takes at least a full month to be fully effective. Consider as well that Cuomo's response to James's investigation was to wave off the significance of the state's evidently wildly inaccurate count of nursing home COVID-19 fatalities since "who cares" where the person may have died? "They died."

Awkward, ham-fisted attempt to emphasize the overwhelming tragedy of the pandemic as a whole? Sure, it's possible. But for someone who is so proud of their track record over the past year, Cuomo's attitude and posture come off less as "bravado" and more as an attempt to preemptively deflect from the fact that people are starting to realize he's done a pretty lousy job, actually.

Despite his protestations to the contrary, Cuomo sure seems like he's positioning himself for a future in national politics. If he does, in fact, end up running for some higher office in the future, questions about how he handled the largest crisis of his time as governor will likely make or break his career. And while he enjoyed plaudits and laudations early on in the frantic, confusing early days of the coronavirus pandemic, it seems more and more like the bloom is off the the rose. The question now becomes: How, if at all, can he get it back?