A Divorced Man Has Never Been the President is a commentary on moral hypocrisy, on the contradictory relationship between national morals as practiced in every day life, and as perceived in the political arena. Specifically, it refers to Nelson Rockefeller, who before his 1961 divorce was favored for the Republican presidential nomination.
The palette of A Divorced Man Has Never Been the President is largely composed of the colors of the American flag, although green, a color often associated with envy, is also incorporated. The work’s composition is one found in many of Indiana’s paintings from the early 1960s—a circle containing text within its outer perimeter dominates the canvas, and is placed above stenciled letters indicating the title of the work. Inside the circle of this painting is a blue star, surrounded by five green circles containing the text “US.” The text can be read both as the initials of the United States and as “us,” the latter suggesting public judgment, and perhaps envy. The five-pointed star, a symbol of both patriotism and fame, represents the leader, judged by the public surrounding him.