this is a genuine question, before people start attacking my intent on the subject
many of the people currently teaching aiki and Aikido follow the thinking that O Sensei was a martial genius who had a mastery of "Aiki"
As most of these people training "aiki" nowadays have never met O Sensei, how do they know this? Disregarding second hand stories, and verbal accounts.
Looking at video footage, can this be seen through body movement, training methods, mechanics etc of Ueshiba Sensei or not?? What is it that can be seen? How do proponents of today's aiki know this immense skill was present??
Everything is a circle and all things flow around it; as so it appears that this thread does too as we come back to your original post
So, Chris, let me just say that your questions above have no definitive answer - absolutely no one alive today can say for sure exactly what Ueshiba's aiki was really about - period. No speculation, perception, or vast amount of evidence can be considered conclusive because it is all speculative without the opportunity to obtain clarification from Ueshiba today.
With that said, you need to form your own conclusions based upon you own consideration of other opinions coupled with your personal experiences. Personally, I give way more credence to those that have the experiences to back up their positions along with corroboration from others - these are the hands on people that have immersed themselves into the dirt of life and have come away with the wisdom of those that can say: 'been there, done that.' The people I give the least credibility to are the ones that do desk top exercises and flaunt their achievements as badges of accomplishments that demand respect and acknowledgment; respect has to be earned and not demanded -humility is the first virtue required for enlightenment and arrogance will perpetually strip you of that opportunity. Please note, there is a difference between confidence and arrogance - the former can personally back up what they say and the latter cannot.
In summary, you really stirred up a hornets nest here - I hope you obtained some useful information out of the myriad amount of BS - maybe the topic of your next thread should be "Ki, and who really had it"