Jon, nice post.
Beware: Long Joycian stream of consciousness post to follow... And no, I"m not going to edit it. I'll just let it fly...
I've long argued that the problem wasn't that aiki wasn't there, but that the transmission of the knowledge and skill was difficult and sporadic at best due to a lack of a proper framework within which to understand how it worked. There was a great quote by Wittgenstein that "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." ("Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus" I believe). You have Ueshiba M speaking in highly poetic terms and if Dan and Chris Li are correct in the interpretation of his original words then it seems that even Ueshiba M. had relied on less than precise vocabulary while he was actually actively trying to communicate what he was experiencing. Then you have the deshi who picked up at least some of it, maybe even most of it, but did so through their own formulations. Tohei developing his principles and teaching method but with great inspiration from Nakamura Tempū. And the list goes on.
Then you need to consider the idea that developing these skills isn't just about choreography assuming this "revisionist" (or maybe "originalist?") view is correct. You need to develop the body in a specific way through a certain type of training. Tanren. So when the sensei who has spent 30 years developing these skills feels his "ki flowing" in a certain way he cannot understand why the new student doesn't feel the same. So students relax more, they emulate the "outer" appearances, and gain none of the inner. And lacking the hard, long practice to develop the foundational body they are never able to demonstrate the skills at the higher level of the sensei. "Just relax" but it doesn't help...
So I see some of the work of guys like Dan, Mike, Ark, Ushiro, et al as helping us better focus on how it is the old guy did some of the stuff he did. Sure, Aikido evolved considerably after his passing. And maybe the aikido of the second doshu is what attracts many to aikido today. In which case *that* aikido may be the one some want to practice instead of the aikido some of us are trying to "rediscover". And I see no problem with both coexisting.
And heck, maybe a lot of us are wrong, but I must say as people develop skills faster and with vastly more power it is harder and harder to deny that this is what was driving the founders of these things. That does not diminish the subsequent evolution, however. It just becomes a question of what it is you want to practice.
Yeah, I"m rambling, but I got a high powered vicoden in me at the moment due to a pinched nerve and I'm chatty. And I wanted to get this off my chest.
I truly wish people would quit arguing about this stuff and just freaking train. I think there is a huge amount of value in the Aikido people are doing today. It gives so many a happy place to go, all sorts of good things about harmony and cooperation. However, it might be the case that this wasn't exactly what O-Sensei had in mind. That does not mean it isn't perfectly valid since it obviously speaks to a lot of people!
But with new research and also with the benefit of the passing of time, things can be reassessed and reconsidered. We all owe people like Professor Goldsbury a case of cold, frosty beverages because it allows us to look back and see things more clearly.
And there is no reason why those practicing what I would probably call "modern" aikido can't be perfectly happy and content in their practice. I certainly have no problem with it. It is a valid practice, worthy, and wonderful. Just because the focus has changed doesn't invalidate anything on either side.
The biggest problem, as I see it, is that each side looks at the other and says "why don't you see the value of what we're doing compared to what you're doing?" I'd really like to change that vibe to "Hey, enjoy your practice and I'll enjoy mine. Isn't this a remarkably flexible art?"