President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: On the Hot Seat

By: Theodore Hodge

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
September 1, 2014


President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has always been a media darling. She is perhaps the most well known and loved leader on the African continent. Her ascendancy to the Liberian presidency has been hailed in the Western world as the greatest thing to happen on the continent ‘since sliced bread’.
Thanks to her incredible talent of self-promotion, she has played a major role of propelling herself up that glorious ladder. She wrote a memoir and titled it “This Child Will Be Great”. According to her, upon her birth, a soothsayer took one look at her and prophesied, “This child will be great…” Her mother, as all mothers tend to do, ate it up. After all, who doesn’t want to be the bearer of a great child? Ellen Johnson was told this prophesy at an early age. It perhaps psychologically prepared her to face the world with confidence and optimism about her future. She set out to manifest her destiny; it was greatness by hook or crook. Along the way, the Western media has helped her propel toward that perceived destiny of greatness. And by all accounts, she has succeeded.

But as we all know too well, ‘what goes up must come down’. Is it possible that this once great child is falling from grace? Perhaps she will not fall and land flat on her face or buttocks, but one thing is certain: She has lost quite a bit of steam; the balloon is losing some air and faces eventual deflation. She has come down a few notches. And what’s her reaction to this new turn of events? She is now lashing out at her favorite friends, the international media. Excuse the colloquialism, but as they say in some quarters, “who would have thunk that?”
In a recent interview conducted by Katie Couric, she was asked about a Doctors Without Borders report that hinted that the Ebola crisis has reached ‘catastrophic’ levels and the quarantine policy aimed at the community of West Point has led to ‘virtual anarchy’. What was her response? She lashed out: “There is no anarchy! The international media must stop this! They are spreading false rumors! We are simply protecting the people from themselves.”

No matter her shock and dismay, one thing was clear: She was now on the hot seat. The international media, after giving her a free ride on the magic carpet for so long, has finally begun to ask some tough questions… she is not familiar with the territory. Though it saddens some of us that her tough moment has come while a catastrophic event looms in the horizon, it was fun to watch her twitch on the hot seat for a change.

Katie Couric is not the only journalist to put her on the tough spot. Foreign Policy Magazine has all but laid the blame at her feet. In one article, they left no stones unturned to come to the conclusion that the Ebola crisis is an outcome of bad policy, specifically, corruption. The New York Times has recently published an op-ed on the political fallout propagated by the crisis. Other Western media outlets are similarly laying the blame where it belongs: At her royal feet.

Maybe she will stop spending millions of dollars the nation needs on lobbying efforts. She spends tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions of dollars on giant media firms to polish and promote her image. She details how an American giant pollster, media consultant and lobbyist named Larry Gibson helped her win the campaign for president. Larry Gibson was (is) indeed a giant in the field; he is said to be an “exceptionally talented architect of numerous successful political campaigns, including Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign in the state of Maryland and three successful campaigns for Kurt Schmoke, the first black mayor of Baltimore, MD USA.”  That’s according to the book, “This Child Will Be Great”.

You couldn’t get any bigger than that! Madam Sirleaf was not taking chances. She hired the best to assure her success. The irony is she hired a powerful media consultant to help her become president of the folks in West Point, New Kru Town, Gbarnga, Zwedru and Buchanana… now she bemoans the international media?

From a recent report by the UN Mission to Liberia comes this grim assessment: “The epidemic shows no sign as yet of stabilization and reduction. State authorities remain unable to respond in a significant manner and the international response remains limited.”

The report continues: “It is evident the Liberian authorities are not able to address the present state of the country. Consequently, it can be anticipated that many additional EVD (Ebola) cases will arise in the coming days.”

Isn’t that a clear indictment of the Liberian administration? Now, this doesn’t come from some hothead provocative and radical commentator, it comes from the UN. The Liberian state is essentially a UN satellite state; without the UN it would have clearly become defunct and failed. The UN has quite a stake in the successful revival of the country, so it would not be logical for it to mount a deliberate, baseless, propaganda attack against the country.  We must therefore assume that the UN is calling it as it sees it: The government of Liberia is not in full control of the situation. Even worse, the government does not have the capacity to actually control the crisis effectively.

First the international media, now the UN Mission… but the most biting criticism comes from even closer quarters. Dr. Jean Jacques Muyembe, a Congolese physician who helped identify the Ebola Virus in the 1970’s is in Monrovia to advise the government on how to handle the epidemic. He said, “Putting the army and police in charge of the quarantine was the worst thing you could do…You must make the people in the quarantine zone feel that they are being helped, not oppressed. The quarantine is going to worsen the spread of Ebola.” That seems to be commonsense except to the president, her Information Minister and Defense Minister. They must be a different breed to have thought such a draconian measure of using the army with shoot-to-kill orders was even worth considering.

Amidst the media onslaught, what is the president’s reaction? Her office has announced that the president does not intend to hold any interviews any longer. Really? The country depends on international aid and charity, and the president will not grant any interviews? Isn’t this when the media darling ought to come and work her magic with the press? Wasn’t this child born to be great? Now she’s retreating into a hole in the cave because the international media is spreading false rumors against her?

One thing is certain, we haven’t seen the end to this unfolding calamitous affair. But you can bet your last dollar that this president is facing the darkest moment of her presidency. This is not her finest hour. How she survives to once more steer the wheel of state will be a great testament to her claim to greatness. The verdict is out, but perhaps not for too long. Perhaps she will survive the leadership crisis and gloat one day, “I told you I was destined to be great…” Or perhaps she will go down in infamy. I’ve already said this Ebola crisis will be her Waterloo, her Achilles heels. We shall see.

Author: Theodore Hodge can be reached at

Sarr Abdulai VANDI
Now that the whole world has seen what a wretched politician and despicable leader she is, Madame President and the Child who will be Great will go down in infamy.
Sarr Abdulai VANDI at 09:42PM, 2014/08/31.
Austin Fallah
The voice told me too " That child Ellen Johnson will lead a criminal empire that will destroy Liberia one day, please she should not be elected to any office." No prophecy ever came that she was going to be a great child. She should tell us the name of that person and I shall ask him/her where that came from. I am 10000000000000000000000% convince that God didn't tell anyone that. One thing I am sure will happen is she along with her criminals will one-day be made to account for the crimes they are committing against the Liberian people in a competent court of jurisdiction. Lie, lie, lie that child will be great. Big big lie.
Austin Fallah at 10:31PM, 2014/08/31.
Powoe Korsor
The whole world has now know that the empress is naked. This is what we have been saying all along. I hear people calling for change of government. I say no to that. My reason is we will be stealing pages from her book-getting power by all and every means possible.
We will waitfor election so that the transistion will be smooth. The new government will set up courts that will her and her likes and hang them. The scums of our society need be eradicated to start anew. God bless LUBERIA.
Powoe Korsor at 04:50AM, 2014/09/01.
Dr. J W.
It is with a heavy heart I come on here to respond to the follish use of a great opportunity by a Liberian and suit-to-follow Liberians in promoting hate,jealousy,discord,lies and the likes in a time when Liberia needs positivity and courageous men and women to help bring a disaster under control.
Theodore, why not sleep on the side of the bed where you normally don't and see if you will stop having bad dreams. I am sick and tired of you and friends with like minds sitting here and preaching hate against a leader who was elected by God and men. You foolish use of the freedom and opportunity provided by this nation where you resides is a shame on you and you need to desist.
What is bothersome is your continuous and aggressive acts hitting on women in whatever way that give you satisfaction. You need to desist and act like a man who has respect for the female. That is the beginning of you new educational counselings. Liberians are respectful people and you are using this great outlet to bring shame to a nation almost in health shambles.
On the "this child will be great" noise that you are making, what were you told you were going to be as a man? Almost everyone has a future before them and in most cases we are told of said future when we are kids. What don't you understand is that Ellen besides been your president, serve at the various prestigious world organizations-U.N.,World Bank,etc.
Theodore, the epidemic in Liberia calls for men of virtues,honors,knowledge and motivation to bring relief to our scared nation. The Liberian people deserve honorable acts of courage and pleas to the medical communities to help solve this crisis and not asylum seekers or scholarship recipients or green card holders or naturalized citizens to sit in their condo, townhouse villa, rancher or apartment and create chaotic atmosphere in our Great Land of Liberty.
Enough is enough and now I admonish you to stay quiet and say nothing if you don't have anything positive to say. Or come up with constructive ways to fight Ebola and save our people and the state. Good work week if you are not on welfare or unemployed because I sensed you have to much time to cry and plan evil against a nation and its people. Enjoy this and let me know what you think!!

Dr. J W. at 06:41AM, 2014/09/01.
Ted Allison

DR. J W, what lies do you refer to? Why didn't you take the time to point to them specifically? This article deals with an interview given by the president... in her own words. Secondly, quotations are lifted from her memoir. Other quotations come directly from other sources correctly identified and the sources revealed. So again, what are the lies?

Are you dim-witted enough to believe that Mr. Hodge's articles have anything to do with gender? Does he not critique men as well? Maybe you ought to start reading with comprehension instead of drawing childish and erroneous conclusions.

We hope the letters "DR" represent a given name, or at least a nick name. It would be a shame that you actually earned a doctorate in any professional or academic discipline... or perhaps you bought your degree from a degree mill; that would explain your shallowness. We know your type.

Think about this: For the sake of anonymity, you give only your initials, but you feel compelled to give the impression that you hold a reputable title. If you are going to remain anonymous, then why call yourself a Dr.? Is that a play-play title?

So far, Mr. Hodge has been objective and fair in his analyses. One would hope that comments such as yours do not provoke him to descend into the gutter with you? Are you sure you really care about the president and would like to defend and protect her? If so, you have a strange way of showing it.
Ted Allison at 11:06AM, 2014/09/01.
Kou Gontee
Mr. Dr. JW or whoever you really are, you are disgusting and of course sound no other than one of Ellen´s sycophants, or simply a fool!
Kou Gontee at 03:21PM, 2014/09/01.
Dr. J. W
Ted and Kou, it is extremely important to put country first rather than sit in your apartments and cause noise and attack levelheaded individuals seeking to bring a situation under control. The both of you sound incapable of running your homes or houses and as such are looking to confront recognized authorities. There seems to be a discernment on your part and as such you will leave no stone unturned to paint a leader ugly. She was elected and will have to serve her terms. Here is an advice for you-run for president next time.

My entire piece above is calling for a solution to a national catastrophe which you Mr. Allison did not mention in you response to me but rather attacked my profile. Your farsightedness has caused you to loose your shortsightedness, which is impeding your judgement and comprehensive ability. Where in your attack piece are the words EBOLA, LIBERIANS, HEALTH, CURE and etc?

In regards to your research from your "Library of Hate" and misconstrued and unchecked facts, I admonished you read those interviews with objectivity rather than preconceived mindset. Additionally you need to find the dictionary and define "lies".

Secondly, A dim-witted mind usually sticks to issues rather than throw issues around. Mr. Hodges recent spewing of attacks against Ellen and her administration is what I am responding to and not the plethora of people and issues he had attacked since he knew how to read and write but not comprehend.

Thirdly, all topic I have ever decided to speak to always has what is called "Readability Factors" so that people from all walks of life can again comprehend. What in the world do you care about me being or not being a Dr., DR., Mrs., Mr. and or Prof? I am and will always be a Liberian with objectivity and will speak to issues of national concern. I do not care for how many letters you student loan or grant give you behind your name, all I care about is making sense (common sense) and dealing or speaking up about issues at hand.

Kou, please be reminded that this nation have suffered at the hands of your "likes" and as such your silence ado or positive contribution is highly appreciated. Your attitudes reminds me of the checkpoints and makeshift camps during the civil war. Liberians are tired of name-calling, labeling and want to live in peace. Stop hating elected leaders and come with solutions rather than separation. Come join Ellen for peace rather than tear her government into pieces, which you will not accomplished. Defined sycophant and tell me where you fit in the definition. The great Bible said, "the fool has said in his heart there is no God". Leadership is from God and as such should be respected and accepted. Now who is the fool? Is it the one who disrespect authority and leadership or vice versa? You need to use the pen as for greatness as the behavior of both seemed shallow and Liberian are watching.

Finally, why not do one or two or three or four of these: donate to an ebola fund, call a relative and send them some food money, suggest ways for the containment of the EDV, ask how you can help your county or country and finally stop being angry and pray for the healing and long life of Liberia and Liberia.

May God bless the State and it's people.........

Dr. J. W at 07:10PM, 2014/09/01.
Ted Allison

"This nation have suffered"?????
And you call yourself an educated person putting others down? Are you aware of such a thing as subject-verb agreement?

Please go back to the degree mill and get your money back. They ripped you off.

You need reading comprehension, doc.
Ted Allison at 07:46PM, 2014/09/01.
Dr. J W.
Ted, go and redeem the nation. Don't sit there and swear at a people and nation that need help. You are as sorry as they come. Again there is readability factors and I am also using my cellphone to respond to your idiocy. Confusion and accusations are your portion and woe unto you for spewing hate and aiding and abetting foolishness.

Look there is a complete aura of trouble in your thoughts and Liberia is looking to burn and bury those who harbored such behavior. I challenge
you to come out with an idea to help stop the spread of the virus and a complete platform of a government in Liberia. Also include your cabinet members as well as a list of things to do one day one.

Sent from my mobile phone...please eat all grammatical errors and govern yourself accordingly.
Dr. J W. at 06:37PM, 2014/09/02.
Ted Allison

Nice excuse, doc. When you mess the English language up, just blame it on your mobile phone. Ha, ha, ha...

You take enough time to cuss, but you can't spell or form correct sentences and it's the fault of the devise... the same devise others use so readily in these modern days. You are the sick one, doc. Maybe you should get your wife to help you. They say 'two heads are better than one'. Sometimes. Maybe you're the smart on in the family, in which case I pity you.
Ted Allison at 05:05AM, 2014/09/03.
Dr. J W.
Ted you are more naive than me as a compliment to you. Why do you keep responding to my writings? You are sorry and refused to change. feel sorry for your spouse or roommate. The issue at hand is Ebola and not the past tense of an action word-TED. Sorry......
Dr. J W. at 09:25PM, 2014/09/03.
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