By Albert Samaha
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For rapper-producerfashion mogulRestauranteurBroadway actormarathon runner Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, the 2004 election is simple: "Vote or die." Combs has been called a lot of things, but prosaic has never been one of them. So with typical flare, he unveiled his new voter registration organization at a press conference today, along with its morbid slogan: Citizen Change.
Ego is the key word here: Combs's own visage, along with his old-school black power salute, is part of the Citizen Change logo. Before he began speaking to the crowd of a few hundred reporters, camera crews, and admirers, a screen flashed photos of the luminaries who evidently helped inspire Citizen Change. Among them were Malcolm X, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and . . . Puffy. "Today is a day that will go down in history," Combs announced to the crowd.
Arrogant he may be, but Combs is one hell of a showman. And like a Baptist preacher he peppered his announcement with "that's right!" 's and "ya'll hear me!" 's. During Q&A, he commented on his own responses, "That was a good answer! Good answer! We on a roll people!" When he announced the stars backing his effort, Combs couldn't help but add his own color commentary. "Oh no! Ellen DeGeneres!" he said. "We're a diversified group."
Indeed, Combs's effort reached beyond celebrity media whoredom into political media whoredom. "Who would pass this up? It's a blast," said political strategist, pundit, and serial pitchman James Carville, when asked why he was lending his name to Citizen Change. Combs explained he'd be deferring to the Ragin' Cajun for political advice. "I don't have a long history of voting," Combs said when challenged on his citizen activist merits. "But I do have long history of making things hot and relevant."