How much for a handshake? (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Evan Vucci/AP)

“I do believe in linking my incentives and my commitment to the accomplishment of specific goals,” Romney said. “I wish we had that happen throughout government — where people recognized they are not going to get rewarded in substantial ways unless they are able to achieve the objectives that they were elected to carry out.”

What an idea!

The duties of the president are many and varied. All your predecessors can manage is to leave you road maps of What Not To Do and oddly specific morale-boosting tasks you have to carry out. One Great Depression was enough. But just let one chief executive pardon a single turkey, and suddenly it’s part of the job description. So the incentives are bound to be a little screwy.

No Great Depressions. No New Taxes. Avoid Bay of Pigs crises. And wave!

This is the trouble with combining the Head of State and the Executive functions. The Queen just has to wander around nodding in tasteful hats. The president has to do that (Avoid Mom jeans! Look presidential!) and fix the economy. They’re two distinct sets of gifts. In the rare cases when they coincide, you get a memorial on the Mall. Maybe some incentives would grease the wheels.

Mitt Romney has looked presidential ever since the day he emerged into the world with a silver spoon in his mouth, riding a tiny thoroughbred steed. The governing part will be the only challenge.

But the more I try to think of suitable incentives, the more I realize that Mitt Romney has everything he could conceivably want. Money? He has it, in spades, although he has probably never seen a spade. Family? Have you seen them? They are so attractive and wholesome that it gives me a ripping pain in the kidney. A dog? Say nothing of the dog.

The only thing missing is the presidency. How about this: We let him fix the economy, and when he finishes, we make him president?

If I had the kind of money he has, I’d be out buying pastrami sculptures of Jabba the Hutt and ignoring all phone calls. But here he is begging us to give him a job that by all accounts is miserable, turns your hair white, and forces you to trudge across the country taking blame for everyone’s problems. For physical pleasure I’d sooner visit the dentist.

If he wants this, I am not certain that he has a rational understanding of incentives. And after he’s elected, what can we offer him?

Boats? Dressage? “He wants to solve problems,” his son Tagg says.

He wants to figure out, when he comes over to your house, he wants to figure out, ‘Well, your boiler’s not working. How are we going to fix the boiler?’ and ‘Have you noticed that some of your trees are dying out there? Why are your trees dying? What’s causing that? Can we figure that out, and can we go down to the hardware store and see if they’ve got something to fix that?’ And all of a sudden you see him driving a tractor in your backyard, and he’s pulling stuff up.

He’s like, ‘Oh, these rocks were doing that.’ I mean, that’s just who he is.”

Clearly Mitt’s idea of “a fun way to spend your spare time” diverges wildly from that of most Americans. How do you motivate someone whose idea of reward is everyone else’s idea of punishment? “Hey,” you yell, “go out and balance the budget, and when you come back in I’ll read to you from Fifty Shades of Grey, with voices.”

On second thought.

Still, here’s my best stab:

Presidential Task Reward
●Fix the economy ●Elected president
●Pardon a turkey and say something that sounds reassuringly human ●Another tiny fork for your tiny fork collection
●Successfully hunt down terrorist leader ●Olympic medal for your horse
●Avoid unnecessary invasions ●More Brylcreme
●Create thousands of new jobs ●Gets to give special PowerPoint presentation to the nation
●Create hundreds of thousands of new jobs ●Gets to give special PowerPoint presentation to the nation with the funny animations between slides
●Repeal Obamacare ●Gets to give special spousal PowerPoint presentation to Ann
●Pass agenda through Congress ●No one ever asks about Seamus again.