I agree that the specific key bindings are the least interesting thing
about Emacs.† This is the approach I tried to take in my tutorial:
http://david.rothlis.net/emacs/howtolearn.html -- namely, teaching you
how to find the commands you're looking for; finding the key binding
is trivial once you know the name of the command. If you have time to
cast your eye over the tutorial, I'd love to hear your feedback.
† However it doesn't really pay to customise the basic key bindings away
from the defaults too much, because all the major & minor modes have
key bindings carefully thought out to be consistent with the defaults.
The section of the tutorial on <vc-annotate> was along the lines of what I am getting at - i.e. the starting point for everything is <M-x command>. As critique, my opinion is that this should be the approach of introductory tutorials from the point immediately following "Installing Emacs."
The general argument form of:
<there are lots of default keybindings -> learning default keybindings>
is premature optimization for introductory Emacs tutorials - at least anecdotaly. The scattered evidence is that the default key bindings contribute to people abandoning the activity of learning Emacs. This is to say that it is reasonable to assume that default key-bindings are an impediment to Emacs adoption by new users and that thus the benefits of consistency between default bindings and calendar mode and IRC chat mode and email mode, etc. are never realized by most new users because they give up on the process and only a small percentage of those who adopt Emacs to some degree wind up living in it full time.
The argument form also ignores the idea that key-bindings can be aligned programmatically. Emacs is designed for programmers, after all.
In my opinion if a tutorial emphasizing CUA makes adoption rates higher, then the tutorial is more successful. The idea that CUA is not good Emacs is a social more, not an Emacs idiom. The emphasis on standardized keystrokes as the starting point in Emacs tutorials, logically parallels the idea that the first step to learning Emacs is to remap the keyboard to Dvorak for efficiency.
Someone wants to learn Emacs. They start with the standard Emacs key-mappings. Now they have two things to learn...
The second is the language of Emacs. The first is the gang-signs of the Emacs community.
The Emacs model has a command language and a means for making command language abstractions, elisp. The ability to make keybindings is feature of the process for making abstractions in the command language, individual keybindings themselves are values.