Speaking as a Catholic I'm not sure I agree with everything Rand Simberg is saying. Though I find his analysis has a lot of truth to it.
In Papal elections the supposed "front-runners" never seem to be Pope. It's my understanding that it always ends up being someone no one expects. I think part of the reason this always happens is because Papal candidates are not allowed to campaign. It's sort of like how George Washington never campaigned to be President. To do so was originally looked down on in the newly formed US. The Catholic Church takes it one step further by threatening ex-communication if a cardinal tries to do the same. Though that alone can't account for it. And it's hard to believe that someone isn't truly watching over us for the last Pope to have been selected when he originally was not even seen as being a potential candidate for Pope.
Islam's influence on the world is a great issue facing us. And Rand Simberg's analysis leads to an interesting conclusion of the Church selecting the first "black Pope." I for one would be elated at something like that happening. Also keep in mind it is Africa right now where the Church is literally exploding. A Black Pope would have a positive effect on the Church. Many African priests are being exported to North America and Europe. The Vatican saw this as a way of re-evangelizing the western world, in much the same way that Irish Priests did at one point. The Irish influence on the church is still felt to this day. I wonder how this new African influence will play out.
The thing is that Arinze is seen too much as a front runner and something tells me that if we do get a black pope it'll probably be a small town African cardinal that no one expects to win.
Also Rand hasn't considered another possibility for Pope. JPII made an appointment of at least one cardinal "in heart" which means in secret. Appointments can be made this way because the Church may be persecuted in the region of the world where the cardinal comes from like China. In China right now the government runs a National Chinese Catholic Church that is not recognized by Rome. The real Catholic Church in China consists of secret priests and bishops that the church dares not to reveal their names for fear of the Chinese Government. The names of these bishops are never revealed until after they die.
No one knows who, or from where this cardinal comes from. It is very well a possibility that the next Pope could be a Chinese cardinal, that would have been part of the opressed church in China, or who knows where else.