Perhaps the debate is which desktop environment to recommend to first-time users of X11/Linux so that they don't get a bad impression and misblame it on Linux.
Why would first-time users blame a bad DE on a kernel? Because you introduced the whole shebang to them as "Linux"?
elementaryOS repudiates the 'Linux distro' concept for this very reason. They see promise in the Linux kernel and other components as good raw material, but also that giving average users or beginners an OS that looks/feels like Batman on one machine and The Joker on the next (and using the same term for them all to signify something buried deep within) is a recipe for consumer exasperation and rejection. App developers won't see a Linux distro as steady ground (i.e. a 'platform') on which to attract and support users, and those users won't be able to recognize "Linux" anyway.