Google constantly shot that down and said how it works (agree to everything before downloading) was intentional and expected behaviour. They have finally changed that model now, but in my opinion this was pretty inexcusable and reckless.
I was unable to find the issue in the Android bug tracker now, but it's a pretty long thread.
Maybe "lazy" is the best word, but moving from Android's classic "grant permissions on install" to "prompt for permission" is a major change that they spent a long time working on (I think Android 4 already had a lot of the backend for this?).
It's not like it was secretly granting permissions to apps, and you could always choose to not install something that took too many permissions.
You could say they made the wrong choice, but we're a long way from "this binary can do everything on your files" model of Unices/Windows
Perhaps they were working on it for a long time, but they were actively defending their stance for years after many people were requesting this, and after many incidents of Play Store apps intentionally doing more than expected (uploading contact lists, tracking location, etc...).
As someone who has developed and published Android apps, it was super frustrating to spend half your app description justifying each and every permission used, and still getting negative reviews simply because you had to request some scary looking permission for the most mundane feature addition.