Now Clinton's DNA faces paternity test

IN A case of life imitating art imitating life, Bill Clinton's DNA was back in the news yesterday with reports that a 13-year-old Arkansas boy is waiting to find out whether what his mother has often told him is true: that he is the son of the President of the United States.

A picture of the child suggests that a relationship cannot be ruled out. The boy, Danny Williams, has been brought up by his mother, Bobbie Ann, who is black and was working as a prostitute at the time Danny was conceived.

According to the Star, a tabloid with a track record for Whitehouse exposes, the boy has had a sample of his DNA taken for testing. This could be matched against information about the sample given by President Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky case last summer.

The Danny Williams story was given a perverse kind of credence by Joe Klein's novel, Primary Colors, and last year's film of the same name, whose main character is based on Mr Clinton. Primary Colors has the rumour of an illegitimate black child surfacing in the presidential campaign, and outlines attempts to suppress the scandal. In the novel, the child's paternity is left ambiguous.

Klein - who originally denied writing the book - covered the 1991-92 campaign and many of the details described in the novel, which circulated only as rumours in the early Nineties, have turned out to be true.

The Danny Williams story - like many of the less savoury allegations about Mr Clinton's past - has been consistently shunned by the mainstream media in the United States.

The new development - the child's DNA test - was reported only by the Star and another tabloid, the New York Post. It was also reported by the Internet "gossip", Matt Drudge, whose reports on the Lewinsky case were overwhelmingly vindicated.

True or false, the revival of the Danny Williams story, days before the Senate decides whether to try Mr Clinton after his impeachment by the House of Representatives over the Lewinsky affair, was unlikely to be mere chance.

The question was whether it represented opportunism on the part of the Star, a last desperate attempt by Mr Clinton's enemies to smear him at a crucial stage in the impeachment process, or the truth. US arms bill soars, page 11 Leading article, Review, page 3