I don't agree with you on this one. The biggest power of Debian is that most packages, even obscure one, fit into one distribution with all the testing and dependancies being resolved. I have experience with Red hat, Suze, and solaris (ouch on that one) systems where installing off the beat application can sometimes be hell. Debian provides a quick way of testing application before deciding to start a buld process where you get to spend half your evening building the newest of the newest libraries. Been using Debian since Hamm and I hav gotten used to delays... If you feel lucky you can always dist-up to Unstable.
Cut the distro down to what will fit on one CD (two max). That will reduce a lot of Debian's headaches. Less for them to maintain and less to test between releases. Everything else can be put into contributed non-official repositories