Ken Burns endorses Obama

Renowned filmmaker Ken Burns today announced his endorsement of Barack Obama. In a conference call with reporters, Burns, of Walpole, said that what he characterized as recent negative campaigning by Hillary Clinton influenced his decision to make an endorsement.

“I’ve been disappointed by the tone the campaigning has taken, and I felt it was important to end my neutrality,” Burns said. He added that he respects Clinton and said, “She’s getting bad advice, and I’m sure she’ll clean up her act.”

Burns praised Obama’s character and said he respected his stance on the Iraq war. “At a time when political winds were pushing this country into an unnecessary and unwise war, Barack Obama had the judgment, the political and moral courage to oppose it,” he said. “At a time when politics descended to cynical slash-and-burn character attacks, Barack Obama steadfastly presented a positive un-ironical agenda for the country. While others are mired in the consequences of past actions . . . he presents a vision of the future that’s not only possible, it’s essential to our survival as a great nation.”

Burns called Obama authentic and said he would be a leader “who calls on each of us to heed the better angels of our nature and not our basest fears.”

Quoting a line from his recent film about World War II, “There is no such thing as a good war, only necessary wars,” Burns said of Obama, “I trust him to distinguish the difference between necessary and unnecessary wars.”

Burns also cited U.S. history. “If you were a pundit in the 1850s, you would be certain the country needed an experienced professional like Clay, Calhoun, Chase or Stanton, but what the country actually needed was a relatively inexperienced young wiry figure from Illinois,” he said, referring to Abraham Lincoln. “I’m wiling to bet that in this case history does repeat itself.”

In 2000, Burns introduced Al Gore at a New Hampshire speech, and in 2004, he supported John Kerry.

– Shira Schoenberg