One thing that struck me when President Bush nominated Condoleezza Rice to serve as Secretary of State was that this was quite possibly the first time a non-white-male had been that close to the presidency. According to the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the line goes from Vice President to Speaker of the House to President Pro Tempore of the Senate and then through the Cabinet officers, in order of establishment, from Secretary of State through Secretary of Homeland Security.
It is true that there has been a woman (Madeline Albright under Clinton) as Secretary of State, it wasn’t until President Bush appointed Colin Powell that a black man had come that close to the presidency. And now a black woman will be four heartbeats (one of them the occasionally-irregular heartbeat of Dick Cheney) from the Oval Office.
Several years ago, while talking with friends, I predicted that the first non-white male to serve as president would be a Republican. The far right wing still has occasional instances of bigotry, and no liberal black or woman (let alone a black woman) will overcome all those factors combined. But a lot of conservatives will rally behind a minority, choosing to embrace their principles and not their appearances. I suspect that’s part of the reason why Democrats have been so reluctant to put up anything but white men.
I’ll even go out on a limb and make a prediction. By 2016 the Republican nominee for either president or vice-president will not be a white male. And the United States will have a minority president or veep by 2024.