James Fee asks:
Curious, does it matter to a RESTful zealot that ESRI’s REST API is a cover for SOAP?
Not terribly. From a client's perspective, as long as there are bookmarkable entry points, solid formats, and links to other application states, everything is fine. A web client shouldn't be aware of what's going on behind the resource representations. When you work with Wikipedia, for example, you're operating on web pages about topics, not chunks of text in database records. That's an implementation detail, and something's broken if it leaks through to the client.
Typically there are other protocols involved in a RESTful service. Your web framework, at the very least, is connecting to an RDBMS using some specialized RPC. ESRI's ArcGIS Server just has one extra layer in there. This design seems inside-out to me, and probably sucks for other reasons, but it doesn't necessarily make things un-RESTful.