In a speech that ranged from basketball stars Manute Bol and Muggsy Bogues to New Tide detergent and the Hubble space telescope, Office of Management and Budget director Richard G. Darman yesterday warned against a "neo-neo-ism" of new policy fads.

Combining policy prescription, puns and thinly veiled barbs at some of the most cherished notions now popular among conservative Republicans, the Bush administration's budget director warned against a "premature rush" to new policy ideas implemented without testing and evaluation. He dismissed this tendency as "Hubble-ism -- recalling the unfortunate recent failure to test what is now the world's largest orbiting victim of near-sightedness."

At the end of his speech to members of the Council for Excellence in Government, an organization of former senior government officials now in the private sector, Darman was presented with a prune, because it is an "older and wiser plum."

But while Darman's speech contained humor, it also angered conservative Republicans and some White House aides by lampooning the tendency for American presidents to come up with plans beginning with the word "new," ranging from the New Deal to the twice-used New Federalism to the New Paradigm.

The last phrase was coined by James P. Pinkerton, deputy assistant to the president for policy planning, and Bush himself talked at some length about the new paradigm notion in a speech last April.

Conservatives have rallied around it as a way for Republicans to reclaim the initiative on domestic issues by introducing the principles of market-orientation, decentralization, choice and empowerment into policy. In child care and education, for example, that would mean tax credits or vouchers as opposed to direct government aid to institutions. In public housing, it would mean private ownership and greater tenant control.

There is an Empowerment Task Force in the administration that has begun meeting to come up with proposals for the budget and State of the Union message. They likely will include measures that would give individuals greater choice in education and offer tenants greater management in public housing. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp heads the task force.

Darman, whom associates describe as increasingly restless in his job, poked fun at the "new" programs and the "inescapable political tendency -- the overwhelming political incentive -- is to identify problems {or 'crises'} and to meet them with 'new solutions,' or at least press releases pretending to the same."

"It's a bit like soap operas brought to the viewing audience by Tide, New Tide, and insistently New New Tide," the Bush administration budget director said.

He called the New Paradigm "a bit too pretentious for a would-be populist movement" and said it was "perhaps, enigmatically paradigmatic." He said its four principles could be collapsed into one and might conflict with the New Paradigm's fifth principle -- an emphasis on what works.

Darman said that "in the real world, others might simply dismiss it by picking up the refrain, 'Hey, brother, can you paradigm?' "

Word of Darman's speech ricocheted from the Capitol to the White House quickly yesterday afternoon among Republicans who see the New Paradigm proponents as the only members of the administration doing any thinking on behalf of conservatives.

A conservative outside the administration complained that Darman was the person who "bankrupted" the only real message the Republicans had and that he was now attacking "the part of the White House doing anything to get it back." He called Darman's remarks a "declaration of war on the only thinking element in the administration."

White House aide Pinkerton said: "After the success of the budget agreement, it's good to see Dick rejoining the intellectual dialogue."