The Senate Ethics Committee concluded earlier this year that Ensign made false statements to the Federal Election Commission and violated campaign finance laws and referred the case to the Justice Department for possible criminal charges. Ensign abruptly resigned just before the findings were released.
"Congressional leaders traditionally, at least since the 1960s, have been more willing to deal with personal scandals than the kind of scandals that touch on the way Congress works," Zelizer said. "This was about him [Weiner], and pictures and Twitter, and there's kind of a safety in dealing with that issue. It's less comfortable to talk about interest groups and their contributions to Congress."
Sloan speculated that the treatment Weiner received may have stemmed from a precedent set by Boehner in two recent "personal scandal" cases involving Republican congressmen.
At the first sign of sexual misconduct, Boehner urged Reps. Mark Souder, R-Ind., and Chris Lee, R-N.Y., to resign, even though their behavior didn't appear to involve any abuse of their office or illegal behavior.
Souder, an eight-term congressman and staunch social conservative, admitted to an extra-marital affair with a staffer and abruptly resigned in May 2010. Lee quit his office in February shortly after a shirtless photo he texted to a woman on Craigslist surfaced on the Internet.
"This is a massive overreaction and I don't understand it," Sloan said of the pressure on Weiner in an interview earlier this week.
"I think there will be a public backlash when people start to think about what [Weiner] is really accused of doing. And is this the most serious thing a politician has done when most people are really concerned about politicians selling their office to special interests?" she asked. "There's no kind of that allegation here."