Romney, Huckabee, and Pawlenty must be thrilled.

Gridiron Club President Dick Cooper told club members earlier this afternoon that Palin accepted an invitation to speak at the black-tie affair, according to a member of the club’s executive committee.

Meg Stapleton, a spokeswoman for Palin, confirmed that Palin planned to address the dinner in an e-mail to POLITICO: “The Governor was honored to accept the invitation.”

Also speaking at the dinner will be Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), whom the club invited to represent his party at the event.

The dinner’s December 5th, which makes this even more of a no-brainer than it might have been: Not only does the committee get one of the few Republicans who still generates star power but they get her right in the middle of the media blitz over her book. The spring dinner is the one that the president and other top pols usually attend, but who knows if her being there won’t turn this one into a hot ticket. The downside? It’s off the record, which is a shame since the speeches are all designed to be funny. A little humor, particularly at her own expense, would help soften some of the opposition to her; any Palin fans lurking in the audience are well advised to smuggle a Flip in there and bootleg that sucker.

Meanwhile, three questions. (1) Is the Gridiron committee trying to make the GOP leadership squirm by picking her? She’s the one who helped lead the charge against the party by endorsing Hoffman, after all. (2) Will Barney Frank take a gratuitously nasty shot at her in his speech on a night where good humor’s supposed to prevail? That one’s rhetorical. And (3) what’s the consummate Beltway outsider doing speaking at the consummate Beltway insider event? Well, second-most insider event: The Alfalfa Dinner’s even more secret, clubby, and exclusive. And … she attended that one too.