It’s now two days since the South Carolina primary. The commentators have commentated, and I’ve listened to and read a number of them as I attempt to come to my own conclusions regarding the outcome. Here are my various thoughts, in no particular prearranged order.

I heard only one of the speeches that evening—Newt Gingrich’s. He was appropriately humble and visionary. He showed magnanimity toward the other contenders. If all I knew about him was that one speech, I would be an avid supporter. But the questions remain. Even if I give him all the benefit of the doubt, and accept his moral turnaround as genuine, there’s still other baggage [there’s that word again that refuses to leave peacefully].

Fox senior analyst Brit Hume darkly warned that a Gingrich nomination would be unacceptable to many of his former congressional colleagues. He predicted a silent revolt—some openly avoiding appearing with him during the campaign—fearful they might lose their reelection bids if they get too close. I don’t know how accurate that prediction is, but it does arrest one’s budding enthusiasm.

And as Santorum noted during the final SC debate, do we really want to nominate someone whose next utterance may cause a firestorm? Can Newt be trusted to rein in his rhetoric when necessary? Right now, it’s working for him as he takes the media to task for its hypocrisy. Will that approach work in the general election if he is the nominee, or will it sink the Republican ship? I, for one, love to see a politician calling out the media for what it is: a shill for Obama’s reelection. But would Newt find the proper balance between critique and casting a hopeful vision for the future of the country? He did so on Saturday. That’s a start.

I have to admit I hope SC is the beginning of the end for the Romney candidacy. While I think he’s a decent person, I don’t believe he has what it takes to tackle the Democrat smear machine. He can’t even hold his own against friendlier opponents. His drastic drop in SC in such a short period of time doesn’t bode well for his staying power. When you add those concerns to the ones I’ve had all along, there’s no way I could exert any energy on behalf of nominee Romney.

I didn’t see Santorum’s speech, but the commentators I read generally said it was one of his best, if not the best, of the campaign season. They said it had genuine substance. He seems to have gained greater respect over time. Most see him as a principled conservative and not a political opportunist who sways in the policy winds. The issue now, of course, is whether he can replicate his Iowa win anywhere else. Or is Gingrich now on such a roll that he will sweep all before him? I continue to believe that would be a shame. Santorum, to me, is the most honorable of the potential nominees, and deserves better from the Republican electorate.

The contenders are now in Florida. I’m already planning to go to one event where Santorum will be present, and perhaps others may appear there as well. It’s only about a mile from my house, so it will be quite convenient. While I know Santorum’s chances are not great at this point, I believe one must vote according to conscience. Unless there is a revolution in my thinking over the next week, I will happily cast my vote for him on January 31.

When all is said and done [as the cliché goes], I must trust God to take the republic under His wings and do what He can with the material He has to work with. One thing I firmly believe: a second term for Barack Obama will result in a further decline in the moral and social capital of the nation. Regime change is essential.