> My real question is, is he dumb enough to mean what he says about moving that functionality "into the app itself," taking it from a useful centralized UI abstraction back down into reliance on every single application to do "the right thing"?
The vast majority of the applications' UIs are in the applications already, and people expect them to get it right. Having the title bar and buttons rendered by gtk+ with its current theme inside the application rather than gtk+ in the window manager seems like a minor move in that context. And as gtk+ is themable, you can still select a theme that has a title bar like you would have had with the window manager (or that disables the client drawn title bar for that matter).
As I wrote in a previous comment, I am all for abstracting the UI from the application, but breaking off a small bit of the UI in the form of the window decorations and just abstracting that doesn't seem such a big thing to me - and why not just have it match the rest of the applications UI, instead of fighting to get the application's and the window manager's theme to more or less match? The user is still free to vote with their feet if applications mess up the title bar (rather than, in particular, just letting their toolkit handle it).