I noticed that a couple times, you used terms like "as practiced by most" and "typically". This to me brings up the question of styles of aikido. Which style do you practice? (Both of you, I guess?) Do you think that pre-war style practice makes one better able to actually implement waza as "viable takedowns" rather than "principle exercises"?
ASU is what I practice. I could not comment as a competent authority on what he did pre-war as I am not a scholar in this area. I would conjecture though that O'sensei evolved and grew (I would hope) to the point of refinement in which he stripped away all that he thought was unecessary to the goals of aiki so we could just concentrate on those aspects that would best instill the lessons he thought aikido could teach us.
So, why are we so fascinated with turning this back into diatyo Ryu? Why not study that?
I think most of us simply want to be the best we can be. Physically, Mentally, Emotionally, and Spiritually. Most of us don't really understand exactly what that means even though we all think we do! We all kinda have a mental pictue in our brains of what we think perfection is...or better yet "what quality is!" (Read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance). However, we all, myself included, probably don't spend enough time thinking about what that really means and what the cost of that is.
What we are probably really after is happiness. What does it take to achieve this?