Many people regard federal appeals court justice Sri Srinavasan as a likely choice to replace Antonin Scalia, even though -- or perhaps because -- his time as a corporate litigator made some unions and liberal groups wary of him. The president is going to have hard time getting any pick approved, but if he picks a moderate, surely the right will at least refrain from demonizing the nominee ... right?
I don't know. I think the right will not only block any nominee, but also try to persuade the public that any nominee is deeply suspect, even one who defended Enron's Jeffrey Skilling and Exxon during his time in the private sector. How would right-wingers do that in Srinivasan's case?
I think it would get ugly and racist. I don't establishmentarians trying to turn Srinivasan into a suspect brown "other," but I can certainly imagine Donald Trump mocking him just for his name (which he'll claim he can't even pronounce, as if that's all you need to know about him -- his full name, by the way is Padmanabhan Srikanth Srinivasan), and I can imagine Trump and others pointing out that he's foreign-born (yes, he was born in India, but the Constitution doesn't require Supreme Court justices to be natural-born citizens).
I can also foresee a moment when Fox News "accidentally" identifies Srinivasan as a Muslim. He is, in fact, Hindu -- but please note that when he was sworn in as a federal judge, he took the oath on a copy of the Bhagavad-Gita. That will rile up a lot of True Patriots, so expect Fox and other conservative media outlets to make note of that repeatedly. (The oath, by the way, was administered by Sandra Day O'Connor, who clearly had no problem with the choice of holy book.)
In 2008, the Hillary Clinton campaign circulated a photo of Barack Obama in an African ceremonial outfit, taken during a visit by the future president to Kenya; releasing the photo was a cheap shot by Team Clinton, but the people who continue to circulate it are Obama's right-wing opponents. If a photo surfaces of Srinivasan in non-Western dress -- maybe at a wedding in India? -- I bet we'll see it quite frequently on Fox and right-wing websites.
Right-wingers will use whatever's at hand about any nominee, and work it as hard as they can. There are no safe picks for Obama.