“I’m not into partnerships,” he says dismissively. I don’t even know what it means.” He “couldn’t care less” about gay marriage. “Does anyone care what Americans think? They’re the worst-educated people in the First World. They don’t have any thoughts, they have emotional responses, which good advertisers know how to provoke.” You could have been the first gay president, I say. “No, I would have married and had nine children,” he replies quickly and seriously. “I don’t believe in these exclusive terms.”
There is a trace of thwarted ambition about him. “I would have liked to have been president, but I never had the money. I was a friend of the throne. The only time I envied Jack was when Joe [Kennedy, JFK’s father] was buying him his Senate seat, then the presidency. He didn’t know how lucky he was. Here’s a story I’ve never told. In 1960, after he had spent so much on the presidential campaign, Joe took all nine children to Palm Beach to lecture them. He was really angry. He said, ‘All you read about the Kennedy fortune is untrue. It’s non-existent. We’ve spent so much getting Jack elected and not one of you is living within your income’. They all sat there, shame-faced. Jack was whistling. He used to tap his teeth: they were big teeth, like a xylophone. Joe turned to Jack and he says, ‘Mr President, what’s the solution?’ Jack said, ‘The solution is simple. You all gotta work harder’.” Vidal guffaws heartily.