In case you had not heard, Ben Bernanke will be giving a press conference this afternoon following the FOMC meeting. This is a unique event in Fed history, and a bad idea, as this NYT piece should make clear to you.
Bernanke's authority comes from Congress, and he is required to report to it and answer questions twice per year. On these occasions, he gives a statement, like this one, and then he is grilled for a few hours in a committee hearing. The Fed issues policy statements after every FOMC meeting stating the current settings for policy instruments and the likely future course of policy. Bernanke also gives speeches, explaining what the Fed is up to. All of this is fine. The Fed needs to be held accountable, and there should be political oversight of its actions, and periodic review of the legal structure within which it operates.
Venturing into the political arena, though, has no upside. The Fed's independence is valuable, particularly when the going gets tough and Congress has an incentive to focus on short run problems at the expense of long-run stability. Sometimes it is best for the Fed to lie low and hope no one notices what it is up to. Bernanke's key flaw comes from his experience as a teacher. He thinks things can be made right by simply explaining himself carefully. Everyone will understand. Then it will be OK.
As the New York Times piece makes clear, there are plenty of people out there who believe that there is something the Fed can do under the current circumstances which will lower the unemployment rate. Believe me, the Fed has done essentially everything in its power to do so. Whether there are sticky prices, sticky wages, credit market frictions, or whatever at work in the economy (or not), there is absolutely no action the Fed can take now that will lower the unemployment rate (in part for reasons discussed here). For example, by committing to an extended extended period where the interest rate on reserves sits at 0.25% (say three or four years), the Fed just risks a serious inflationary period, and gives us no benefits at all.
Bernanke (as the NYT piece tells us) has in fact led people to believe that the Fed has the tools in its box to lower unemployment under current conditions. Given this is not true, going out in public and defending that view cannot lead us anywhere where we want to go.