Cuomo, doing his best Trump impression, coos about his book’s “ratings” mid-pandemic. In the end, though, it doesn’t matter: Cuomo can get away with it because of his popularity. That last fact is key to assessing the true “leadership lessons” conveyed in Cuomo’s book.

Looking at American politics as a kind of television series can help us understand some of the events of the past several years. (As Bruno Maçães noted in a book released just as the pandemic hit the U.S., in this day and age, “democracy may be redefined as the ability to get the show we want.”) The coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. during the term of the first “reality TV star” presidency. In March, with the coronavirus threatening to overrun New York City, there were two leading shows Americans could tune into: the Trump show, or the Cuomo show. The kind of show Trump put on at his coronavirus briefings — making fun of reporters, lashing out at political opponents, dismissing the severity of the pandemic — may have achieved high ratings, but it wasn’t the spectacle Americans needed in the midst of a once-in-a-century crisis…

American Crisis is essentially an extension of Cuomo’s press briefings. In that sense, the true “leadership lessons” of the book are how to capture the public’s heart while obfuscating any problematic decisions and casting blame for failures on convenient targets. By demonstrating his own “vulnerability,” Cuomo gained the public’s trust and has ever since been acting out a narrative in which he and the New York state government are working tirelessly for the people, against the evil machinations of President Trump, Mitch McConnell, and whoever happens to be Cuomo’s political enemy. (Bill de Blasio makes several cameos as a bumbling nuisance, Florida governor Ron DeSantis as predictable foil.)