C.E. Evans wrote:
I like to think that the Enterprise-A was primarily assigned to courier operations where she could also carry out "wave the flag" missions whenever necessary. The ship might have always returned to Earth (or Spacedock One) after each assignment, so she may not always have been on deployment all the time.
The odd occasion aside (see STV & STVI), it would certainly work to keep Kirk under some from of control out of interstellar politics for the most part.