It is not often that I find myself agreeing with Sarah Palin. But the erstwhile Governor of Alaska and hockey-mom-in-chief had a point when she asked how all that hopey-changey stuff was working out for ya? Barack Hussein Obama, you have been a disappointment. Change we can believe in? More like Continuity that Shames America. I am sorry to say it, but this American president is no better than his predecessor.

I suppose a fair-minded observer could argue that the failure to close Guantanamo Bay represents a graver breach of trust than Obama’s parallel reluctance to lift the long-standing US embargo on haggis imports. Nevertheless, this latter matter grates.

The United States of America: a land of the free and home of the brave in which you may legally – and easily – purchase an assault rifle but, also, a place where pettifogging officials slap a blanket prohibition on the importation of quality encased meats such as the noble haggis. America: a place where they fear the sheeps’ lung.

For it is the ‘lights’ that run afoul of the Food and Drug Administration US Department of Agriculture. These, we are told, constitute a danger to human health. As if! Our poor American cousins must make do with native-bred haggis that, whatever their other merits, cannot quite compare to the real, Caledonian variety. Lung-free haggis is all very well-intentioned but it is still, in the end, a mistake.

I’m glad that the BBC’s Jon Kelly has joined the fray, protesting against this Yankee discrimination. This blog no longer labours alone. See, god help us, past episodes of haggis-mania here, here, here and here.

There was a brief glimmer of hope in the early days of the Obama administration. For a tantalising day or two it seemed as though the Americans were prepared to lift their shameful haggis-ban. Alas, such hopes were fleeting and faded as fast as the January sun. The true haggis, that great chieftain o’ the puddin’ race, remains contraband in the United States.

I fancy it is a matter of ethnic discrimination. The result, mainly, of the sorry truth that Scotia, for all her charms, is not generally reckoned home to one of the world’s great cuisines. Were the haggis a Frenchman or an Italian I suspect he would not be sneered at so readily, nor treated with such ignorant condescension. He would, simply by virtue of his nationality, enjoy status and garner some measure of respect. But as a Scot, he is presumed to be beneath contempt. Should you feel like blaming Dr Johnson for this I would not criticise you for doing so.

And so, each January, this lament is reprised. It would, I think, take a simple Executive Order for President Obama to undo this injustice. His continued disinclination to permit the importation of quality haggis must be considered the act of a cold and unfeeling man. Never mind the ballyhooed Churchill Bust, give the man a haggis. A real one.

Tags: Barack Obama, haggis, International politics, Poetry, protectionism, robert burns, Scotland, sheep, Trade