You know PythonLabs's missions and goals better than I do. If such goals weigh "making a new and better Python" far more highly than helping spread and preserve the use of Python, then you may well be right that the extra effort for (e.g.) making email part of the standard distribution vs the current "maintaining a separate distro" would be a bad allocation of scarce resources.
Actually, in the minds of the people who pay my salary, "making a new and better Python" is one of the best ways to "help spread and preserve the use of Python".
Something requiring much effort is not necessarily "obviously out": it depends on how important you judge the results of those effort versus the results you could have by spending the effort elsewhere.
I very muich doubt that the corporate users who are currently worried about the fast pace of change are interested in any particular feature, and I don't think that any backported feature is going to make that previous version more popular amongst managers with decision power. The question in front of them is, "should we use Python or not", not "should we use Python 2.1". To answer that question, they want to perceive "Python" as stable, not "Python 2.1".
--Guido van Rossum (home page: http://www.python.org/~guido/)