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Have you read the email archives of the WHAT-WG mailing list? If not, there are over six months’ worth of evidence showing that the WHAT-WG’s definition of <cite> has everything to do with styling. If you’re curious, the discussion seems to have started on June 3.
The usage Jeremy, others, and I advocate is not to use <cite> as one would use <blockquote> or <q> but to attribute a quote to its source (be it a person or whatever strikes your fancy) in a semantically meaningful way. I was in academia long enough to understand the difference between a quotation and a citation, thank you very much.