Fr. Finigan links back to an interesting post by Rorate Caeli (you either love them or hate them), bearing a tone of vituperation and contempt as well as tinges of paranoia. You can read it for yourself. The author confidently states that Ratzinger was never considered a papal contender in 2005, especially by John Allen of the NCR. Thus, one should pay little if any heed to persons prognosticating outcomes for the conclave. His proof is a list of papal contenders allegedly compiled by Allen, sans link. I happened to search the NCR website, and found distinct evidence that the subject of a Ratzinger papacy was discussed and was considered a very real possibility. This was a quick search on my part. I didn't even take the time to look for other coverage Allen provided in which he discusses Ratzinger as a candidate.
I don't begrudge anyone who says we need to just step back from all the talk surrounding papal contenders. This said, it doesn't seem too smart to state something historically inaccurate, perhaps in the hope of allaying fears. This post was typical of the tinge of fear and creeping paranoia I alluded to in an earlier entry. Those who found so much hope in a Ratzinger papacy are worried gains will be lost or direction reversed. Benedict left his supporters with a papacy that did not seem to fulfill all of its promise, giving room for the next pontiff to move the Roman Church in whichever direction he so decides. Some of the papal candidates are positively frightening for a devotee of Benedict's papacy, especially two hailing from Africa.
There are many issues that are being floated about by the media and the cardinals. These are thought to be the issues that will sway the cardinal electors. In the end, the essential issue that the cardinals will face, in my opinion, is whether or not Benedict's papacy left the Roman Church in a better or worse place compared to before he ascended to the papal throne.