v. reduce from an inflated condition; release contained air or gas from
His goal must be to deflate the opposition, not to encourage it.
Sentence in Classic:
He neatly deflated the pompous and exposed the ignorant and the bigoted, and he did it in such subtle ways, drawing his victims out by his seemingly courteous interest, that they never were quite certain what had happened until they stood exposed as windy, high flown and slightly ridiculous.
Gone With The Wind By Margaret Mitche Context